EMILY DICKINSON

 

The lie that is her honesty,
To cypher, yet to name the heart,
And in each vein and artery
The chill and hemlock of her art.

To show her meaning in the dress,
A plain and open secrecy,
To wear herself, and in each place
A mouth that no kiss shall set free.

The child, the virgin, the chaste bride,
A page unturned and written on,
A nun from the mere flesh untied,
A self bow no one else has drawn.

The lie of white for in each thought
Antipodes, the tropic still.
Half mad, too singular, distraught,
A fault that is unmendable.

Odd, contrary, misshaped, and marred,
That stony bed in every eye,
A dry stick, and stopped vinegar,
A cross wood, knotted, and awry.

Yet to come true at last, and whole,
To work from nothing all that is,
To span the earth from pole to pole,
That upper room, her cell, each place,

The skated figure of each thought
Both centre and circumference
And in each bitten and sealed knot
An essence and its accidents.

A house without a door, she said.
To walk quite naked, and unruled,
To choose and take the world to bed
And still be free and still unschooled.

To walk alone and in delight,
An edge of being, and apart,
Each nerve an absolute of light,
The opened razor of her heart,

In the wild eye, the frantic art,
A childlike, monstrous purity.
The crucible a frozen heart,
The stillness of the polar sea.

Each verse, each word, screwed in a vice,
The coffin of her life that chase,
Each circumscription of the ice
That is her own and the abyss.

A crazed wren drumming at the glass,
That wintry, freakish eye, each note
Eternity and death and loss
And joy that nothing can rinse out.

 

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