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Sleigh Bed & Before Dark
By Barbara Alfaro
Visiting Emily Dickinson’s home
in Amherst, Massachusetts.
After days divided into increments
of grocery lists, poetry, and baking bread,
weary and delighted, you slip into
your dark wood single bed
and feel soft linens against your skin.
Did you exchange hungry kisses
with Judge Otis P. Lord on that bed?
Or, was it sacred space where
only dreams and poems were wed?
Harvard looted everything of yours
except this sleigh bed, its head
and foot boards slanting outward,
where you lay listening and let
the hodgepodge of eternity in.
“Home before dark,” our mother’s voice
trails after my brother and me like a kite tail
as we scamper to stick ball. Sundown
happens too soon so we run to the blue
house as if our lives depend on time.
After supper, in the hallway, I hear
“She’s got to stop following me around”
and imagine his pals poking fun at
a skinny kid sister tagging along.
Today, I can’t help it; I’m happy.
God knows why.
I’m holding on to heaven.
If I let go, what’s there?
Nothing but memory and pain.
I confess I’ve been unfaithful
to my dreams and my stories,
leaving them alone and unwritten
in the distant shimmering house,
the house they burst forward from,
rushing and true. I have to keep writing.
That’s how it is, before dark…