We are a one computer family and Harriet has been working for days on a paper for school, so the rest of us have been offline mostly unless we can slip in while she makes a quick trip to the bathroom (yes, we are real people). And it has been okay. For days I’ve been walking around stunned by the sunshine and warmth.  Yesterday morning when I put the sheep out in the pasture, the killdeer were on the hill making the sounds that mean there are eggs. I can’t even write more about it now because the windows are open and I need to get back outside again.

. . . . .

driving home this morning along Otisco Lake

. . . . .

Have you read this poem?

Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes

First, her tippet made of tulle,
easily lifted off her shoulders and laid
on the back of a wooden chair.

And her bonnet,
the bow undone with a light forward pull.

Then the long white dress, a more
complicated matter with mother-of-pearl
buttons down the back,
so tiny and numerous that it takes forever
before my hands can part the fabric,
like a swimmer’s dividing water,
and slip inside.

You will want to know
that she was standing
by an open window in an upstairs bedroom,
motionless, a little wide-eyed,
looking out at the orchard below,
the white dress puddled at her feet
on the wide-board, hardwood floor.

The complexity of women’s undergarments
in nineteenth-century America
is not to be waved off,
and I proceeded like a polar explorer
through clips, clasps, and moorings,
catches, straps, and whalebone stays,
sailing toward the iceberg of her nakedness.

Later, I wrote in a notebook
it was like riding a swan into the night,
but, of course, I cannot tell you everything –
the way she closed her eyes to the orchard,
how her hair tumbled free of its pins,
how there were sudden dashes
whenever we spoke.

What I can tell you is
it was terribly quiet in Amherst
that Sabbath afternoon,
nothing but a carriage passing the house,
a fly buzzing in a windowpane.

So I could plainly hear her inhale
when I undid the very top
hook-and-eye fastener of her corset

and I could hear her sigh when finally it was unloosed,
the way some readers sigh when they realize
that Hope has feathers,
that reason is a plank,
that life is a loaded gun
that looks right at you with a yellow eye.

Billy Collins

4 thoughts on “oh happy day or, despite my early attempts to be restrained I now have spring fever

  1. Oh Anna. Marvelous.
    And no, I’ve never read that poem. I’ve been thinking about it all day. Wondering about stealing it from your blog to mine.

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