The Dresser in Emily's Bedroom

Right there, feet from the bed she died in,
sewn up in tiny fascicle bundles, unread,
not to be read, not to be published,
monoprint chapbooks arranged and re-
arranged to suit intended readers
she was too reticent to speak to,
ever, except from behind a door, ajar.

How they came from her writing table there
(no bigger than a oiuja board),
from planchette pen to folded leaf
stitched shut and mummy-wrapped,
living and smothering just feet from where
a gasp and pen-dab and a foot-tap
telegraphed them into being

How many enwrapped, entombed inside
that oblong moth-proof drawer?
how many survivors of admonition
a poet should never ... a lady does not ...
eighteen hundred tightly-wound mortars
she wryly called her “little hymns.”

Emily Dickinson at Amherst,
I in your room as close to fainting
as ever in my adult existence,
at tear-burst, with a strangled cry I dare
not utter. A life, a life’s work,
a soul's compression that one executor
could have tossed away for kindling
or suppressed for jealousy or malice.
But we have you, Emily, we have you always,
your words in a fascicle of stitched stars.


  1. Brett, I love this poem. I would pick out a line here or there, but it all so strong. Let me just say the second stanza is a knock out.


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