"Music Swims Back to Me"
By Anne Sexton 1928–1974
Wait Mister. Which way is home?
I have always found solace in music. It helps me sleep, when I can sleep. It calms me. It drowns out voices when I'm psychotic. It motivates me when I'm depressed. Music is a big part of my life, and I'm not even a musician. I suspect music is meaningful to many of us with serious mental illnesses, especially those of us who experience auditory hallucinations. My Mp3 player is my lifesaver in such times, and I wouldn't know what to do without it.
They turned the light out
and the dark is moving in the corner.
There are no sign posts in this room,
four ladies, over eighty,
in diapers every one of them.
La la la, Oh music swims back to me
and I can feel the tune they played
the night they left me
in this private institution on a hill.
Imagine it. A radio playing
and everyone here was crazy.
I liked it and danced in a circle.
Music pours over the sense
and in a funny way
music sees more than I.
I mean it remembers better;
remembers the first night here.
It was the strangled cold of November;
even the stars were strapped in the sky
and that moon too bright
forking through the bars to stick me
with a singing in the head.
I have forgotten all the rest.
They lock me in this chair at eight a.m.
and there are no signs to tell the way,
just the radio beating to itself
and the song that remembers
more than I. Oh, la la la,
this music swims back to me.
The night I came I danced a circle
and was not afraid.
Anne Sexton, “Music Swims Back to Me” from The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981). Copyright © 1981 by Linda Gray Sexton and Loring Conant, Jr. Reprinted with the permission of Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.
I've been away from the blog lately, because I went to Maryland for a week and only had sporadic internet access. I stayed for four days with my grandmother who is still alive (my mother's mom), and visited aunts and uncles and cousins (just a few), and my grandfather who is still alive (my dad's father who lost his wife last month). Then I went to a hotel for the national National Organization for Women conference which I go to every year because I'm involved with that feminist organization. It was great fun, and educational too. I got to see my friends from NOW who I don't see very often because they don't live near me.
Since I came home, I've been really worn out and tired. I'm going to physical therapy twice a week now, for my Fibromyalgia and arthritis pain. I go to see my mental health therapist for the first time in like two months tomorrow. The problems with Social Security are still going on. Today I was so exhausted I did practically nothing at all. Now I can't sleep, of course. But I will listen to music and try to fall asleep. Music swims back to me.