"There Interposed a Fly”

For Emily Dickinson, May 15, 1886


As her last milky breath skimmed

her lips she heard me hum

the flickering music of the sun.


From the bedpost I watched

her onyx eyes bum out their coal-

all her fire blown into glass


as transparent as my wings. How could I not

caress her ear, alight upon her muslin

shoulder? In this linen light it was easy


in my blue bottle boldness to unlock

her prison of liquid perfume,

motes of cinnamon dispersed


through air, her soul' s censer waving,

releasing her from the enigma

of dashes. She called to me-


she would miss wild nights

moored in alabaster, in this chamber

where I nestled between the auburn


threads of her hair. I was humbled-

her last message of love was for me,

a speck, a cinder afloat in white


air. What could I give her?

If only I could translate the secret of dying

(after all, it's what I feed on)


if only I could tell her-

keep your eyes open, stare at me

as if I were your mountain,


your sky, your dot on a disc of snow-

your never in the letting go.


Andrea Bates