Tuesday 7 April 2020


Taking off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes
gazes out at me, behind the window frame,
half content to be in Billy Collins’ world,
half wishing to be me;

cross-legged in the evening sun,
drinking rose petal tea.

I can name the Yellow Rose, the Frilly Poppy,
the Bee, longing for that same tea;
the half-eaten, bruised cherries,
the guzzling, drunken, blackbird feast.

Deep in the shadows, lazy snakes
of ivy curl, and the wind is a Tempest again.

I walk among the unnamed things,
the secret, hidden lives;
I pronounce the names of Latinate things,
and trip on the words and smile:

Cerastium tomentosum, snow in summer.
Gallium odoratum, stars in spring.
Lavendula angustifolia,
where the herb garden sings.

© Shaista Tayabali, 2020

Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes is the title of one of Billy Collins' poetry collections. He is one of my favourite poets, a playful and compassionate storyteller. Our cherry tree is slowly turning brown. If only the bright white blossom would last longer, but alas the winds have tumbled the petals down. These are slow times, which suit the person used to slowness (however much she may have fought the way it was forced upon her). I hope you are all coping with the pace newly forced upon you. I am determined to learn the names of things, which a poet really ought to know... but what else are we here to do, other than learn, forget, and promise ourselves we will learn again?  


Sherry Blue Sky said...

What a GLORIOUS poem, full of the wonders close-at-hand, and the poet, wanting to know more........lovely to read you, Shaista, always. And now I can picture you in that sunroom full of plants, in an imposed quietness, apart even from your folks, as we get through these difficult times. I hope the antibiotics are working. Yesterday I ventured out in a homemade mask made from a cleaning cloth, two diaper pins and two hair elastics. I actually got laughed at. But I did feel safer, if only psychologically, lol. You would have laughed. I need to modify the mask before I go out again.

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