Love Couplets for Anne Sexton (Written by her red dress)

After Arthur Furst’s portrait of Anne Sexton (1974)

I watch your hands resting mid-flight, I wonder what

they might look like perched on the frame of my bed?

You speak words. I am making tiny earthquake discoveries

about you, but how much will you leave unsaid?

What would it be like to contract and squat on that innocuous

ring you furl and finger, sent sick or mad with motion?

Or I could morph into a cigarette, sublimate, pry in your

smoke and leave a small token?

If I gathered the stray hairs on your coat, might I spin them to make

yarn, then twist to make rope?

I could be the artful weaver unpicking shrouds and my fingers

gently bleeding hope?

I want to drown in your mirror, ride on the liver of your soul

then try on your red shoes.

I’d like to lotion your screams with my love, peel away the tissue

then kiss the bruise.

I want to make a fabric from you, hand stitch the warm swatches

design a quilt, spread it on my bed.

And had you bent your fugitive neck my love I may have had

enough to embroider your scent instead.

Poem by Mona Arshi, commissioned by Poet in the City, University of Liverpool and Loughborough University as part of Poets in Vogue