Voicemail For Emily Dickinson

after Taylor Byas


Hey, girl. I was at your old house just now.
They’re trying to do you dirty. Did you know
they turned that place into a museum?
They even made a replica of that old white
housecoat and stuck it on a mannequin in
your bedroom near your desk like a headless maid
waiting for you to go downstairs so she can snoop
through your shit. Speaking of which, the docent is
uncomfortable talking about your letters.
She says you and old girl used to sleep in the same bed
because it was cold outside, that many Victorian ladies
would have done the same, that it was normal. At least
we can agree on that part. She keeps bringing up the fact
that you didn’t have kids like it’s confusing, as though
there is something mysterious about wanting peace, quiet,
and endless hours for poetry and repotting plants.
The docent says it doesn’t matter who you loved,
that you’ve only left us with questions. She has it all wrong.
I was at your grave just now.  Girl, I shouted your lines
wondering how they can ignore what you told us all along.
But you know what? Plenty of us were listening. Still are.
And I know by all the seashells and rainbow at the base
of your headstone. But listen. I’m nobody, and I’m not
trying to stress you out. By the way, a couple blocks up,
someone planted rows of pink snapdragons. If you
squeeze them gently they open up and grin with rows
of bright yellow teeth. I’ll bring you some next time I’m
around. I think you’d like the snapdragons. To hell with the rest.