the town celebrated emily dickinson’s life tonight at a small pub on the square. the room was filled with scholarly types, girls and boys young and old. i clapped as each approached the stage. i clapped after they read another poet’s work. i clapped after they read their own, even though i didn’t think much of it. of the dozens of poems i heard, i only liked one.
i sat there, silently. waiting for it to be over. patiently. staring at the floor.
the godawful floor. and suddenly i wanted a pen and paper. thankfully, my mother always packs one in her bag. and someone left a paper napkin on the table.
slabs of concrete, colored like dried vomit
crossed, counted off, divided by thin, dirty, red lines
like fresh cuts or scabs touched too often
glass–frosted or clear
framed by tiny white lights
and big, velvety red bows
thin plastic, red like cherry popsicles
melting on cheap, wood tables
topped with red, green and white balloons
too much christmas
too much cheer
in too small a room
too many words
and yet not enough to keep my attention here
thankfully, when it was over, i picked up a battered, gray hardcover of dickinson’s poetry someone had left on a table, flipped it open and found something new to me:
number four ninety-one
while it is alive
until death touches it
while it and i lap one air
dwell in one blood
under one sacrament
show me division can split or pare–
love is like life–merely longer
love is like death–during the grave
love is the fellow of the resurrection
scooping up the dust and chanting–“live”!