Stanley Kunitz in his forward to Beginning With O by Olga Broumas helpfully points out that the poems inspired by fairy tales also pay homage to Anne Sexton. As Kunitz remarks they “pay Sexton the tribute of imitating, though not without significant variation, her adaptations of fairy tales”.
Take Sexton’s lesbian take on Rapunzel
Give me your nether lips
all puffy with their art
and I will give you angel fire in return.
By the end of Sexton’s poem the lesbian liaison is broken up. Broumas’s speaker ends with the figure of a multiplication and ever more Sapphic coupling:
[…] I’ll break the hush
of our cloistered garden, our harvest continuous
as a moan, the tilled bed luminous
with the future
vows like tulips. Rows
upon rows of kisses from all lips.
Broumas pegs as her beginning, an epigraph, the opening lines from Sexton: “A woman / who loves a woman / is forever young.” Perennial. And for this I take as my text this bit from Stanley Kunitz 1977 forward
Because of their explicit sexuality and Sapphic orientation, Broumas’s poems may be considered outrageous in some quarters, but I believe they are destined to achieve more than a succès de scandale. We shall all be wiser and — who knows? — maybe purer when we can begin to interpret the alphabet of the body that is being decoded here.
And so for day 1212