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The Anniversary 

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Of course we failed, by succeeding.
The fiery cherub becomes his smothering.
A greedy heart dives into a dream
Of power or truth, and wakes up middle-aged
In some committee room.
It is eating paper instead of God.
We two are one, my bird, this is a wedding.
 
When love was war, you swore you’d burn
Your life and die at thirty-five. I said good riddance,
Bright hairy boy, I will beat you, down,
Tear you to monkey shreds, survive like earth,
Owl-eyed, because I wanted to see everything
Black and permanent and kill you with your theories.
We used to wake up sweaty and entangled.
 
Thirty, home, and work. We cohabit in a functioning machine.
There is violence, somewhere else. Do we wish this? It occurs,
The flayed combatant, the dismembered child,
The instruments in the basement. We must wish it. See,
Between us is peace, our babies are plump,
I know you, I caress you, I fail you. My faith adheres
In nothing. Don’t leave me, don’t leave me.
 

Alicia Ostriker, "The Anniversary" from Songs. Copyright © 1969 by Alicia Ostriker. Reprinted by permission of Alicia Ostriker.
 
Source: Poems from the Women's Movement (The Library of America, 2009)
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The Anniversary 

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