I have been working steadily on a difficult editorial project. The manuscript overflows with theoretical locutions, while my writing hand longs for simple subjects and predicates. I walked. I sang. I slept. A plain, uncluttered fiction. The life that no one leads.
Meanwhile, a small wind knocks at the back door. "What solitude of attics waits, / Bleak, at the top of the still hidden stair?" But the stair is not hidden in my house. It is merely steep, and narrow.
Emily Dickinson's white dress is tiny, tiny. In the days when I used to sleep in the room next to hers, when my husband's family lived in her manse, I used to wake in the dim mornings and wander into her bedroom and say to myself, "I will never be a poet. I am too large for Emily's tiny dress." It was a kind of mourning, a familiar mourning. Delete a poet from that sentence. Insert beautiful or loved. Now we can all mourn.
Every day, in the yard that once was Dickinson's, grey squirrels, conniving as cats, scuttled across the roof, sprang through the oak trees, hung upside down from the fascia and pressed their sharp skulls against the porch screens.
But in my yard we have no grey squirrels, only their tiny red cousins. They speed to the heights of the fir trees and toss empty cones at the dog in the drifts below. Every day, the dog is puzzled. For her, every day is new. She will never be __________. She is too ___________ for Emily's tiny dress.
Now my house has lost its silence. A refrigerator hums. Car tires splash on the salted road. My writing hand longs for simple subjects and predicates.
I walked. I sang. I slept. A plain, uncluttered fiction. The life that no one leads.
Nevertheless you are there, hidden,
And again you wake me,
Someone or something,
Something or someone faithless,
And that will not return.