Dickinson's Day Lilies
"She came to me with two day lilies which she put in a sort of childlike way into my hand,...[B]ut she talked soon & thenceforward continuously—..."Humility wasn't enough, littleness was not low enough;
—Higginson on Dickinson
the lilies she brought might be firebrands,
globes of incense, torches clapping the air.
She listened to the god of miniatures inside her
and grasped two branding irons,
two distillates of loons.
She could not let herself tilt
the room in any direction today, and so
she had considered holding two antlers, two thistles,
two mantles of thorns,
she had considered dangling at her neck
or a diagram of the macula like a family
crest to remind herself:
do not roar.
The lion in the parlor is playing the lily bearer
with her two jars of bloody milk,
her two bladders of sun soot—
which she can hardly wait to pour
into Higginson's ear.
Only later must she wonder:
Who saw in me a specimen?
But what had she given away
but her two broken, golden-necked swans,
They weren't notched into her own white paper quite yet.
They weren't what would make her.