Homage to Dickinson


I’ve never longed for the annulments of Heaven,
nor for Hell, that orgy of repenting,
but have wanted the loneliness of this
slender room and bed, the cool neatness
of being dead: to be reduced, cleaned out,
a manageable mess, nothing left but knobs
and buttons, the skull an empty crock,
the pelvis a washed plate, the ribs laid
tidily, side by side. And I would be gone,
not that stern white dress, not that thing
with the Bible on her breasts. I would be
nothing but one narrow room of sepulcher,
one barred window where traffic never brings
its soot, the ear clean and empty as a scrubbed cup,
the tongue at rest and I, free at last, the window
of myself cast open, and all the sweet lament
of mourners throbbing in the distance, the angels’
white blouses pinned to the line of the horizon.
I would be alone, alone, in my maidenly
tomb, my own woman. Finally. And forever.


From The Nerve Of It: Poems New and Selected, published by University of Pittsburgh Press. Copyright © 2015 by Lynn Emanuel. Used with permission of the author.