An Orchard for a Dome, A Poem Inspired by Emily Dickinson, by Mick Albright, 2016

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Are you looking
in the right place
for beauty?

A poet once wrote
he remembers the priests
of his youth—swaying
to and fro like shadows
garbed in purple and black

little silver Christs hanging
from their necks,
and round red beads,
like holly berries,
little sanguine drops
glowing in reflected light
of prayer candles—he can see
beauty, now, he said, dancing
in those beads,
where once he saw flames.

And that other poet, eyes
like sherry you left in your glass,
lowering a basket on a rope
from her upstairs window
gasped to find Morning
bathing
in amethyst—

she even caught the steeple
of the village church
swimming in it.
She never set foot
in a church in her life,
yet, that swimming steeple
made her cry, redressed
an orchard in the vestments
of a church dome.

Later that evening,
she watched the sun set.
Little yellow children
playing in the sky
in violet light—were they
laughing? Then a priest
somber, led them away
closed the evening bars
with a clank
so loud it knocked an angel
right out of heaven
rattled windows in every house
in town, thrummed tree trunks
sang its clanging song
all the way to the next village
twenty-five miles away.

In black and purple robes
he led them into gray. All
the little yellow children.

And the sunset blew away.
She watched a while longer
a feeling filling her chest
like ink spilling
from the inkwell
on the wooden writing table
by her window
when an odd little insect alighted
on her arm. Flexed transparent
wings, then shut them tight,
like stained-glass windows
against a storm or
the night.
Something with wings.

Not the thing with feathers.
Not Hope. Beauty. Just in
from lying next to Truth,
in an adjoining tomb,
somewhere,
discussing noble thoughts.

“O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend
the brightest heaven of invention!”

Robed in the colors worn
by the Poet’s childhood priests
and the skies that arced like bruised arms
over the playful children
this delicate winged thing;
waiting, still as a stone,
on her sleeve; a cerulean eye, ringed in gold,
watching her from a wingtip
unblinking.

“What lovely robes you’re wearing
this evening, Father,” she said, bowing.
And the candlelight danced.
And the windows burned.
And the red wafer of the sun sank.

And the service began.

(c) 2016 Mick Albright

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