A LETTER FOR EMILY DICKINSON
Like me, you used to write while baking bread,
propping a sheet of paper by the bins
of salt and flour, so if your kneading led
to words, you'd take them, looping their thin shins
in your black writing, as they sang to be free.
You captured those quick birds relentlessly,
yet kept a slow, sure mercy in your deeds,
leaving them room to peck and hunt their seeds
in the white cages your vast iron art
had made by moving books, and lives, and creeds.
I take from you as you take me apart.
When I cut words you might have never said
out in fresh patterns, pierced in place with pins,
ready to hold them down with my own thread,
they change and twist sometimes, their color spins
loose, and a spider's generosity
lends them from language that will never be
free of you after all. My sampler reads,
"called back." It says, "she scribbled out these screeds."
It says, "she left this trace, and now we start,"
in stitched directions following the leads
I take from you, as you take me apart.