The Divine Miss Em - an Emily Dickinson Imagining

emily dickinson photo

Not All Wild Nights Have to Be Drunken Parties as Portrayed on Apple TV

Apple TV Plus is coming out with a new series, reimagining Poet Goddess Emily Dickinson's teenage years as wild, sexual, party-filled rock star living kind of times. That isn't really true to life. Her own letters and other's contemporary descriptions of her portray a moody, morose kind of typical poet-souled girl.

But, to get out ahead of the abomination that will be this show, called "Dickinson" (which--by the way--does not even give Emily her signiature bright red hair that we KNOW she had, because we have locks of it preserved in her archives), I want to self-publish my own reimagining of her life. It's a short story? Flash fiction? Prose poem? In which Emily Dickinson shows a dithering, banal poet named William (Collins) who is boss.

That Time Poetry Magazine ACTUALLY Published (Yet Another) Shite Poem by Billy Collins in Which He Imagines He Is Actually Worthy of Having Sex with Emily Dickinson Which Is So Gross and Laughable and Pompous and Stupid I Can't Event Believe He Wasn't Kicked in the Nads By the Editors for Even Thinking It, Much Less Rewarded with the 1998 Publication

Here is it, annotated with my commentary:
shitty billy collins poem with puke emoji around it
Read the original, if you dare give it any cred, at:
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=40151

It's a bad poem, and it's a bad premise. And it's so ridiculously self-important to be a man, a crappy banal contemporary poet who, for god know what reason, does well in the chuckle-chuckle NPR LL Bean sweater-wearing set, and imagine that the other-wordly talent and canonized GODDESS that is Emily-G*ddamn-Dickinson would be a) interested in (gag) physical intimacy with you and your contrite little discursively twee shite poems at all, and b) be this gentle, delicate little timid thing when you get her upstairs and nekkid. AS FRIGGEN IF, BILLY!!! 

So, I did what all good Best Friends do when someone goes after their squad. I defended my girl. 

Emily Dickinson Riding a Pegasus for the Boston Poetry Marathon Logo
Emily Dickinson Riding a Pegasus for the Boston Poetry Marathon Logo

Flash Fiction Prose Poem by Bridge Eileen, titled "Across from the Evergreens in September, or Emily Dickinson: Master of Poetry"

In response to a poem from Poetry Magazine, February 1998 

William’s hair--what was left of it--was a mess upon taking off his hat. The bluster of the early fall’s late evening wind had made it stick out in odd angles, leaving him to look appropriately unkempt.

His coat and hat were taken and his drab tweed jacket seemed a bit too big. His linen shirt was wrinkled. 

They sat in the parlour and sipped sherry while talking of the weather and her garden. It was another successful growing season and she was harvesting quite a bit at this time. She was grateful that she and the land continued to get along as well as ever. Her nails, she noticed, were still a bit dirty from that late afternoon’s work but it didn’t matter. Men never noticed these things. They saw what they wanted to see. He probably was looking at their slightness and thinness and describing them as “delicate hands,” in his mind. Sigh.

After the second sherry, she got up and went to him in his chair. “Are we ready?” 

“Yes,” he said.

She bent over to take his glass, “‘Yes Miss Em’ you mean,” she instructed.

He looked at her and his pupils grew. “Yes, Miss Em,” he repeated.

She set the sherry glasses on the table with a firm clunk. “Up,” she commanded.

Obediently, he stood.

“Walk,” she said, and pointed to the stairway.

He walked to the stairway. At the foot of it he looked back to her.

“Go--” He walked up the stairs--She followed.

“Stay here,” she said once they reached the landing. She walked by him and into one of the rooms to the right. “You wait here,” and pointed to the space in front of the doorway and shut the door.

He looked out the window. It was terribly quiet in the town. Nothing but a carriage passing by the house. His breath fogged the glass. Short, nervous breath.

“It’s time to come in,” he heard through the door, “open it and enter.”

Though she was not tall and very slight, in this room with its dark, wide-board floors -- with her red hair unloosed from its downstairs bun and her white flowing dressing clothes -- she filled the space.

“Undress.”

“Wh-what?” 

“I said, ‘undress.’ Now you say, ‘Yes, Miss Em, right away.’”

“Yes, Miss Em. Right away.”

On her bed he noticed some objects were set. Before he could ask or inspect, she said, “You are taking too long. Hurry up,” as she slid one suspender from his trousers.

“S-sorry,” he said, sliding the other off then fumbling with the buttons of his shirt. Times like these buttons can become complicated matters. The four buttons on plackets situated between broad tucks can take forever to part the fabric.

“‘Sorry, Miss Em,’” she corrected.

“Sorry, Miss Em,” he said, as he pulled his shirt over his head, and dropped it. It puddled at his feet. 

“Pick that up, we don’t make messes here.”

“Yes, Miss. Sorry, Miss,” he was finally remembering to say. He laid the shirt on the back of a wooden chair. 

Next his trousers--the fly undone as fumbling as the buttons of his shirt. You will want to know that it was difficult to concentrate. The space between skin and fabric had grown sparser (though not a lot, in this case). 

“The undergarment, too.” She said, as he looked to her with his trousers round his ankles. “Then step out of them and stand next the bed.”

The complexity of men’s undergarments is not to be waved off. His humiliation as he fumbled through the clasps, clips, catches, strings, while she watched with an amused smile was part of her enjoyment. 

Finally he stood, bare, motionless, a little wide eyed. “Now, bend over and lay your head and shoulders down on the bed.”

“Yes, Miss Em.”

He did as he was told. His bent white body like a swan’s curved neck. 

“Take that small pillow there and bite into when you need, too. Understand?”

“Yes, Miss. Thank you, Miss.”

“That’s my good little bobolink,” she said, as she patted his cold, banal little bum. He gave a start that indicated he enjoyed the touch. 

“Oh you like that, do you?” As she patted him a little harder.

“Yes, miss,” he replied.

And she began warming up to ever harder whacks. Her hand like a plank. She could plainly hear him inhale. When he was finally unloosed enough, she reached next to him.

“This is a courgette, freshly picked from the garden earlier in the evening before you came.” She set it in front of his eyes.

“Bridget makes the butter,” she said, as he watched her scoop some from the dish next to the squash, into her slight fingers.

She heard him sigh as she slid her greased fingers in between his little cheeks. The courgette, like a loaded gun, picked up from its spot next to his face and grasped by delicate hands. The yellow eye of the end of the fruit of her garden. He closed his eyes to the orchard. “Thank you, Miss Em.”

What fortitude the body contains. The coming of a little Coprinus. That it can so endure, the entering of a nature’s labor.