I have to drive 2-1/2 hours up the parkway to Bergen County for a noon-thirty meeting today; then back.
Last June, my family went further than North Jersey –– drove all the way to Amherst, Mass.
The second poem I wrote for Kathy Graber’s class this semester was about family and Emily Dickinson. In my annotation for the poem, I note, “For my poem this week, I wanted to try Emily Dickinson’s style. It is not quite successful. The last stanza is miscreant and has decided to cast off the (attempt at) syllable count altogether and just be two naked runaway lines broken free of the nunnery. I’m not sure if this works or not. I remember in high school I used to love Williams and dislike Dickinson; as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate Dickinson more. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate the mythology of Dickinson from her work, and from memories of my mom making Emily Dickinson’s Christmas cake (‘booze cake’ we called it) when we were growing up.”
After the Visit
At the Homestead, the four of us
wander through the poet’s tomb
& wonder what was there when she
would sit & scribble hymns;
(Naughty hand lapping at her white
dress –– thoughts of Master.)
Here, such sparse furniture now stands;
I remark, “How unclutter’d it all
is! Such a call to simplify!” ––
mother will return to
her dining room & throw out half
our furniture. Next door,
the poet’s brother lived; the poet
would pass her brother’s wife
letters –– letters –– letters ––
but seldom cross the lawn.
There they kept –– each other at a
cozy distance. Mother realizes:
“We’re an Emily Dickinson
family,” setting Thanksgiving
for four, the other relatives
deemed crazy. “But until
I went to Amherst, I thought that
we were the crazy ones” ––
as she takes an ax to the China cabinet
& files down the wainscoting.