The Addict

The Addict

In her poem “The Addict”, Anne Gray Harvey (Anne Sexton) describes her experience of addiction to sleeping pills and her nighttime ritual of taking them. The author dealt with significant mental-health issues throughout her life, tragically, culminating in suicide.

The Addict

Sleepmonger,
deathmonger,
with capsules in my palms each night,
eight at a time from sweet pharmaceutical bottles
I make arrangements for a pint-sized journey.
I’m the queen of this condition.
I’m an expert on making the trip
and now they say I’m an addict.
Now they ask why.
WHY!

Don’t they know that I promised to die!
I’m keeping in practice.
I’m merely staying in shape.
The pills are a mother, but better,
every color and as good as sour balls.
I’m on a diet from death.

Yes, I admit
it has gotten to be a bit of a habit-
blows eight at a time, socked in the eye,
hauled away by the pink, the orange,
the green and the white goodnights.
I’m becoming something of a chemical mixture.
That’s it!

My supply of tablets
has got to last for years and years.
I like them more than I like me.
It’s a kind of marriage.
It’s a kind of war where I plant bombs inside of myself.

Yes
I try to kill myself in small amounts,
an innocuous occupation.
Actually I’m hung up on it.
But remember I don’t make too much noise.
And frankly no one has to lug me out
and I don’t stand there in my winding sheet.
I’m a little buttercup in my yellow nightie
eating my eight loaves in a row
and in a certain order as in
the laying on of hands
or the black sacrament.

It’s a ceremony
but like any other sport
it’s full of rules.
It’s like a musical tennis match where
my mouth keeps catching the ball.
Then I lie on my altar
elevated by the eight chemical kisses.

What a lay me down this is
with two pink, two orange,
two green, two white goodnights.
Fee-fi-fo-fum-
Now I’m borrowed.
Now I’m numb.

Image Credit
Feature: Klesta on flickr