For some of us, Christmas isn’t all about celebrating. It is a reminder for some of us about the troubles in their lives. The poem Christmas Eve, written by Anne Sexton, is a poem that tells us the story from the point of view of an angry daughter.
About Christmas Eve
Anne Sexton wrote a poem that reflects the ideas of an angry daughter and her view about Christmas. This poem is a daughter’s way to describe the complexity of the relationship with her mother. At this time of year, many people feel the emotions even more strong than normal.
In this poem, Mary represents not only the mother of Jesus. It is also the name that was given to her own mother. This daughter tries to come to terms with her mother and even wants to get absolution. Since this time of year is a religious time of year for Christians, she seeks salvation.
This poem speaks pain. This isn’t about that wonderful Christmas feeling that many of us hold in our hearts.
Oh sharp diamond, my mother!
I could not count the cost
of all your faces, your moods-
that present that I lost.
Sweet girl, my deathbed,
my jewel-fingered lady,
your portrait flickered all night
by the bulbs of the tree.
Your face as calm as the moon
over a mannered sea,
presided at the family reunion,
the twelve grandchildren
you used to wear on your wrist,
a three-months-old baby,
a fat check you never wrote,
the red-haired toddler who danced the twist,
your aging daughters, each one a wife,
each one talking to the family cook,
each one avoiding your portrait,
each one aping your life.
Later, after the party,
after the house went to bed,
I sat up drinking the Christmas brandy,
watching your picture,
letting the tree move in and out of focus.
The bulbs vibrated.
They were a halo over your forehead.
Then they were a beehive,
blue, yellow, green, red;
each with its own juice, each hot and alive
stinging your face. But you did not move.
I continued to watch, forcing myself,
waiting, inexhaustible, thirty-five.
I wanted your eyes, like the shadows
of two small birds, to change.
But they did not age.
The smile that gathered me in, all wit,
all charm, was invincible.
Hour after hour I looked at your face
but I could not pull the roots out of it.
Then I watched how the sun hit your red sweater, your withered neck,
your badly painted flesh-pink skin.
You who led me by the nose, I saw you as you were.
Then I thought of your body
as one thinks of murder-
Then I said Mary-
Mary, Mary, forgive me
and then I touched a present for the child,
the last I bred before your death;
and then I touched my breast
and then I touched the floor
and then my breast again as if,
somehow, it were one of yours.
– Anne Sexton