The Moss of His Skin

Young girls in old Arabia were often buried alive next to their dead fathers, apparently as sacrifice to the goddesses of the tribes ...
Harold Feldman, “Children of the Desert”
Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Review, Fall 1958

It was only important
to smile and hold still,
to lie down beside him
and to rest awhile,
to be folded up together
as if we were silk,
to sink from the eyes of mother  
and not to talk.
The black room took us
like a cave or a mouth
or an indoor belly.
I held my breath
and daddy was there,
his thumbs, his fat skull,  
his teeth, his hair growing  
like a field or a shawl.
I lay by the moss
of his skin until
it grew strange. My sisters  
will never know that I fall  
out of myself and pretend  
that Allah will not see
how I hold my daddy  
like an old stone tree.
Other works by Anne Sexton...