Was Emily an ugly girl or did she have bad skin?
Was she flat instead of curved? Was she far too slim?
Were there too many splendid belles come out
Those cold New England antebellum years
And she remainedbecause a little plain?
It makes me sick that tough-sweet spirit had to grope among
Such stiff-necked pious dullards for fifty-six notched years.
Did she fail to learn the dance? Did she make the boys feel dim?
Did she lovejust oncetoo much, then not again
Or did she always love exactly what she loved
But in her dreams and books?
Why couldn't she be happy? Why couldn't she be wed?
Why does her photo draw me in as if I think that
Somewhere she's alive and I should hurry up and write
And tell herI'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I wasn't there for you!
Dear Emily, my dearmaybe I'm just sleepy this Monday 2 A.M.
Maybe I've gone crazy that I would weep for you.
You've been deadthough you live here still
More than a hundred years
And I've only been about half-here for this tired fifty-two.
I'm near the age now when you died and I must say I've felt
That treadmill in my brain, that maelstrom in my dreams,
And wonder which did you
Did you fail to cling or did you just let go?