Emily’s Day

IMG_0756It’s her day. Dec. 10, 1830, she came
Into the world and lived in its hands
The way she wanted to live and died
In its hands the way she wanted to die.

What she did not want is for us to see
Her witchery with words, but in the end,
The poetry breathed stronger than that wish
And we breathe stronger for her words.

In November, I got to visit the Emily Dickinson Museum and Homestead. I had a wonderful tour guide and met the museum director Jane Wald and spent an entire day in poetic euphoria. Please go visit this museum and/or support its work in any way that you can. It is truly a wonderful, personal, and lyric experience. Like ROMP, it is a museum, but not a cold, institutional-like environment in any way.

I also got lost a while in Amherst Books and visited the cemetery where she is buried and where a wonderful town memorial has her as a centerpiece.

[NOTE: I saw the word error in the sentence below but decided to keep it.]

Since following in love with E.D. when I was a teenager reading

I’m Nobody! Who are you?

Are you – Nobody – too?

Then there’s a pair of us–Don’t tell!

They’d banish us – you know!

she has been in and out of my life. I did not understand her poetry for a long time, still don’t understand a lot of it, but that doesn’t bother me anymore. I have developed a taste for the image, for the economy of words, for the beauty of the stroke of syllable that teases and leaves unsaid what lives inside.

Happy Birthday, Emily. We continue to weave your web.

–Shaun Perkins

Some of my photos from the day are below:


Dickinson grave plot
Portion of the mural at the cemetery where E.D. is buried.
Front door at E.D. museum


Back of the E.D. house
There is a basement full of used books in this place!
Home of Austin Dickinson, Emily’s brother. It was also on the tour. It is full of the original furnishings and has not been restored–peeling wallpaper and all kinds of ambiance. Unique.
At a strip mall across the street from the museum


This shop is across the street from the E.D. house.
That corner room on the 2nd floor is where magic happened.
Lovely tree in the E.D. yard to the east.


Parking sign



A tour participant took this photo of me with E.D. house in background.
Events, Musings

Post-ROMP: Poetry Left Behind

Someone left a rolled note here.
Someone left a rolled note here.

I always enjoy giving the museum a good look-over after an event. I find the words and lines and poems that people have left behind. The museum encourages wordplay  and almost everything in the space can be written on. Here are some of the treasures I found after our last event Nov. 16. Continue reading “Post-ROMP: Poetry Left Behind”


The Thing About Chairs

I love simple wooden chairs. I love how they look against a wood floor. On a porch. Stacked up against a wall. Hanging on a wall (I have an old dark-stained one that I use as a towel rack on the bathroom wall.) I think the  artwork at the Oklahoma memorial to the bombing victims, those rows of chairs, is sublime. I wrote a manuscript once about a girl preoccupied with painting landscapes that always had a chair in them. Continue reading “The Thing About Chairs”


Beginning with Death

I wrote an earlier musing on poems ending with the word “life,” so I thought I would also consider poems beginning with the word “death.” The most famous of these is probably John Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud,” which John Gunther took for the title of the biography of his son’s illness and death—a book from my childhood that I remember quite clearly (along with Robby Benson, my teenage crush, in the TV movie role). Continue reading “Beginning with Death”