I gave Emily Dickinson to you then
—Agha Shahid Ali
as if she were a cold or a lasting heirloom, a piece of my living soul
So dangerous to make woman metaphor though I prefer to call her sea, ocean All the mountains & hills removed Emily, is there room at your small wooden desk for the waters & me?
I will hold your dress one-handed in the wind: we’ll take turns writing slant rhymes, our feet gritty with sea salt,
my tongue a barn swallow full of slang, your eyes foam, black waves
I gave you, Emily, to keep you; this is how I love,
so I can rise from your desk, your ocean, soaked in lady slipper orchids