Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Egyptian Tomb of Emily Dickinson

The author reading in her grave is an orange dotted line
then a red continuous line, a house light & more head lights,
above that, a row of (etc.), what a car alarm looks like:
4 signs repeated together: a cherry, a pineapple, cloud, raindrop &
then brief yellow dashes moving like birds, “To be continued.”
The red line lies above the orange line at 75 mph
on the mountains on the last page—while a crow goes
from behind, deleting the orange dotted line—each dash
worth 5 points, cherry and pineapple 10 points, the glow-in-the-dark
haystacks & speeding garbage truck, 50—through
to the underlined parts of the room where I write.
The red line lies above the orange line at 75 mph
on the mountains on the last page in the dark morning.
She reads and reads in this large building in a room
in western Massachusetts—in this primitive dark
a fish skeleton goes by. The walls are decorated with
repetitions, electronic and natural sounds, someone coughing,
an alarm clock going off. A large gloomy ballroom
with an answering machine, & then a black mental swimming pool
ended by three dots.


From Fall Foliage Called Bathers and Dancers (Backwaters, 2008). Copyright © 2008 Alexandria Peary. Used with permission of the author.


Alexandria Peary

Alexandria Peary was born to an American father and a German mother in Dover, New Hampshire and grew up in her parents’ convenience store in central Maine. She received a BA from Colby College; MFAs from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and a PhD from the University of New Hampshire. Peary is the author of five volumes of poetry: Battle of Silicon Valley at Daybreak (Spuyten Duyvil, 2021); The Water Draft (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019); Control Bird Alt Delete (University of Iowa, 2014), winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize; and Lid to the Shadow (Slope Editions, 2011), recipient of the Slope Editions Book Prize.

Peary specializes in mindful writing to alleviate writing blocks and is the author of Prolific Moment: Theory and Practice of Mindfulness for Writing (Routledge, 2018). Her presentations on mindful writing include a web series for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), a webcast for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and her 2019 TEDx talk, “How Mindfulness Can Transform the Way You Write.” Peary is also the author of a collection of creative writing pedagogy co-edited with the poet Tom C. Hunley, Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015).

Peary teaches at Salem State University and is the poet laureate of New Hampshire.

Read about Alexandria Peary’s 2020 Poets Laureate Fellowship project.

Date Published: 2008-08-25

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