As If The Rain by pd lyons from The Women Retrospect


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As If The Rain

Emily Dickinson used to sneak out.

Sometimes in day light, mostly at night.

Tip toeing carefully down the back stairs

Even though nobody else was there.

Always a hat a shawl or a veil

To keep the neighbours off her trail.

Walking along the streets of the town

Glimpses her reflection among dry goods and gowns

And in the shop she has been seeking makes her purchase from a little man who has always honoured their agreement

And never Miss Emily’s secrets revealed.

Bag of tobacco, skins and matches snapped up in her bag.

While wrapped in brown paper knotted with string – a bottle of port

tucks under her wing.

Emily Dickinson used to sneak out.

Later that night she did it again.

Carefully tip toeing down the back stair

Even though nobody else was there.

Making her way out to the train station,

Counting the stars as she sat on the bench,

Named new constellations while she was waiting.

A shudder of sighs defined by an overcoat of stains

he sits down beside her.

Rodent hands desperate in deep dead end pockets

Until, rusty knife retrieved by one opened by the other

String and paper, slit and peeled

Turbulent mouth not spilling a drop.

Until eased back against the slats.

Things he knows he tells her ~

Crossing the country by freight. Tin can meals around a fire.

Men who only knew for certain that they’d not meet again.

Bones broken by horses. Bayonets emerging from a fog.

What it’s like on the other side of the ocean.

Names of young girls, young men.

Who might be living? Who might be dead?

And sometimes, only warm smoke shapes between them linger

As if the rain would never come again on a Tuesday night in Amherst…

 

Wrote this in the late nineties.  Sent it off with a few others to a small Irish poetry magazine called Brobdingnagian Press (if i remember correctly) the pun was that each issue was one sheet of broad sheet paper with small poems printed all over it. Any way this was much too long for it although the editor was kind enough to accept one or two of the shorts. The embarrassing part was that while he appreciated the Amherst poem, being an aficionado of Emily, he did suggest that i might want to spell her last name correctly when sending to other editors.

anyway we had a bit of a laugh over that, Em and I and then went down to the waterfront. it was autumn and a storm was heading in….

a version of this poem appeared in The Yes Factory first issue 2012  https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B58yt4q1_WOpenRMa3RCczVqMlE/edit?pli=1

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