Poetry and Prose by Wess Mongo Jolley

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Emily’s Legacy

Emily Dickinson’s sunlit horses
and snakes sliding through the grass
live now on a New England farm
where they look over bails
of freshly mowed hay
and miss their patron terribly

The northeast pastoral
has a long memory
but only back to Emily
who shuttered her windows
when the ladies came to call
but never shooed away the bee
or shrank back from the toad

The hills now try to remember
life before Emily
and fail

Emily, who tied her hair back
and released sparrows
who folded her hands lightly in her lap
and gave birth to summer

Someday New England will exist
for a reason other
than the memory of Emily
Someday they will all forget
and sunlit horses will
be just horses once again
Someday that narrow fellow
in the grass will be
just another snake


     (First published in The Good Things About America, edited by Derrick Brown, 2009)

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