behind closed doors with emily

maybe i shouldn’t disclaim, but i’m going to anyway.  okay.  i’m not a dickinson fan.  i remember first reading her poetry in middle or high school and not really feeling a connection, and as an adult, i’m still unable to relate to her work.  so for those of you out there who LOVE dickinson, you may just want to read this poem very quickly, forgo the post altogether, or in the comments section, help me to try and figure out how her poetry can speak to me, a woman of color.  i understand that she may have had mental health difficulties, and that her reaction to the deaths of friends and family was part and parcel to her growing seclusion.  i definitely have sympathy for that.




Yes, you were in that room! A nobody?

Unheard, unwanted–perhaps–unseen?

Unknown until you weren’t anymore.

I understand you–no, I’m not sure.


How to know what it means–to be–a truly unknown nobody

For your countenance–a woman–all in white,

Protected your voice–You walled yourself in–

Out of choice?

no. 2: speaking with walt

the conundrum of anachronism

oh, mr. whitman.

what have you done to me?

it seems that even my firstborn

(however unintentionally)

bears your name.

i cannot help but think of you

each spring, when lilacs

fill the air with their aroma,

forcing me to abandon my

anhedonia along with

my frustration with

revisionist history.

with equal measures of

longing and fear

i wonder at our imagined meeting,

you laughing at

my fan-girl posturing,

my bookmarked copy of

leaves of grass.

were you really

the man in your poetry?

basted in your love for

the human experience?

roasted in the fire

of the civil war?

i read your biography on


you would dislike, disavow me,

would not speak to me,

would not sing my body electric,

if you passed me on the street.

(written 2 october 2017)