NaPoWriMo -Fifth Prompt – The Belle of Amherst

A few years ago, I was asked to write the program notes for The Belle of Amherst, a one-woman play about Emily Dickinson written by William Luce, and immersed myself in all things Emily.  I didn’t read all her poems, though when you realize how easily we might have lost them all – every one seems precious, as does Emily herself with whom I fell in love.  If you give yourself the great pleasure of watching Julie Harris play the Belle in the YouTube below, you’ll see why.

I chose this poem because of the reference to Tunis – partly because I’ve been to that exotic city, but mostly because, though known as a recluse, in truth Emily had dozens of correspondents all over the world and it wasn’t unusual for her to receive mail from Chicago or Paris, or Tunis delivered by a postman dressed – I’m guessing here – in a green uniform with red trim…

A Route of Evanescence

 A Route of Evanescence
With a revolving Wheel  ‑
A Resonance of Emerald
A Rush of Cochineal  ‑
And every Blossom on the Bush
Adjusts it’s tumbled Head
The Mail from Tunis ‑probably
An easy Morning’s Ride
 ~Emily Dickinson 1830–1886

A Route of Evanescence

An evanescent route winds round the world –

that great revolving wheel tucked

inside the orbit of our minor star,

itself hid within a galaxy whose numerous

siblings spin and sing on every side,

whirling  with a resonance of emerald

a rush of cochineal – vibrancy of color

drenching earthbound awe-struck eyes

in wonder, muting our poet tongues, turning

us back home to watch every blossom

adjust its tumbled head in the wake

of our warp speed arrival – it barely

takes an instant to readjust our gauge –

light speed to Mach 1, ratcheting down

to horsepower, to hoof beat, to footstep,

but in that instant  of evanescence

we glimpse  a hundred scenes – Mayflower,

cherry tree, Gettysburg flash by – time

and distance so foreshortened

even far-off Tunis

seems but a morning’s ride away

and anything is probable.

~Emily Dickenson & Christine Irving
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