“In Falling Timbers Buried”

Some say Emily Dickinson had a morbid fascination with death. Others see the fact that approximately 1/6th of all her poems and letters were about death as something not unusual for one who lived next to a cemetery and during a time when folks died of illnesses at a much younger age than we do today. Her poem #614 speaks of diggers attempting to find a man buried in rubble. Too late, the saving grace is Death, in that he is no longer suffering.

I saw the setting of the first line of #614 as a place where dreams die, aspirations are quashed and we sometimes don’t even understand that we have made ourselves prisoners. I imagined a frolic of mythical forest fairies engaging in a battle with death, attempting to coax it into and ward it off with their fairy ring of mushrooms, a place of legendary doom for non-fairy folk.

In researching fairy rings, I learned quite a bit and will definitely be on the lookout for them in the future. If there’s a full moon and you see me running around one nine times, from east to west (the direction of the sun), it will be in hopes of hearing the fairies dancing and frolicking underground. Please just watch from afar and don’t make me lose count, for legend has it if I run around a tenth time I will meet ill fate and be made to run to the point of exhaustion and death and/or perhaps become invisible.


Emily Dickinson and Death – Emily Dickinson Museum

MCNAUGHTON, RUTH FLANDERS. “Emily Dickinson on Death.” Prairie Schooner, vol. 23, no. 2, 1949, pp. 203–214. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40624107. Accessed 22 July 2021.

Do you dare enter a fairy ring? The mythical mushroom portals of the supernatural | Ancient Origins (ancient-origins.net)

Magical Fairy Rings: The Science and Folklore (mushroom-appreciation.com)

the prowling Bee: In falling Timbers buried — (bloggingdickinson.blogspot.com)

Fairy ring – Wikipedia

“They Shut Me Up in Prose”

According to some scholars, Dickinson’s poem #613 is quite the exercise in feminism. In it, she masterfully uses the imagery of a captive bird and speaks in a defiant voice about the struggles of being a female, expected to be silent and kept locked up by societal expectations of the mid 1800’s.

Although she never engaged in any public romantic relationships, researchers have long questioned the many cryptic references to “loves” in her poetry and posed questions about her private life and potential relationships with several men and also with her sister-in-law, Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson. In my version of this poem I imagine the coded language she used to send messages that would not be deemed appropriate during her time. Over a century and a half later, fans of her work are still looking for the meanings between her lines.

Note on “fascicles:

*During Dickinson’s intense writing period (1858-1864), she copied more than 800 of her poems into small booklets, forty in all, now called “fascicles.” She made the small volumes herself from folded sheets of paper that she stacked and then bound by stabbing two holes on the left side of the paper and tying the stacked sheets with string. She shared these with no one. They were discovered by her sister Lavinia after Emily’s death.


They shut me up in Prose (F445A, J613) – White Heat (dartmouth.edu)

1855-1865: The Writing Years – Emily Dickinson Museum

“I Rose Because He Sank”

The kindness of strangers, the devotion of one who loves or simply cares. Emily most certainly knew and exercised both herself, as have you and I. Unable to sleep any later this morning, I rose early and flipped through my catalog of first lines and chose this one. I immediately thought of all of the times others have gifted me with exactly what I was unknowingly in need of and also of those times when strangers or kind hearts have seen an obvious need and spontaneously reached out to take my hand, light my way or lighten my load. Their kindnesses served to increase the want in me to do the same.

A moment in time that would register insignificant in the chronicles of world history could be a catalyst, a lifeboat, or a key to a long locked door. We often have no idea or at least not the full extent of the impact of a small act of kindness. That’s the key to it all though, to the world being a gentler place. If we are living and breathing, if we have eyes to see or ears to detect a need, we have it in us to inspire, to educate, and to influence and affect others in a positive way. May we all rise to the occasion.

“I Could Not Prove The Years Have Feet”

Unlike me, Emily Dickinson never married, nor had children. She wrote poem 563 about time marching on and goals for her own personal growth. Today seems quite an appropriate time for me to post my version of this poem. My eldest child turns 39 today and the years have literally felt like they’ve had not just feet, but wings! The saying ” the days are long but the years are short” truly applies when it comes to raising kids. As I reflect on this day, I’m once again awed by the wonder and the miracle of birth. It’s something you never forget, no matter how many years have passed. And then there’s the bearing witness to their becoming, watching them turn into the people they were born to be while preparing them to grow confident and able to fully function without you. Each stage, with its joys and struggles teaches you something you didn’t know before you became a parent. It’s certainly true that we are their first teachers, but we learn so much from our children. ❤

Long Time, No See

Hopefully there were a few of you wondering whether or not I completely gave up on this project. The answer is No! I was simply living the life of a writer, which sometimes boils down to write, self doubt, crumble and toss, write, self doubt, crumble and toss, pick up the pen and get distracted, pick it up again and decide to work on another project and well, you get the idea. So today I was inspired, by anger, but hey, whatever works as inspiration! Emily certainly must have had days when she experienced the same. I imagine all writers/creatives do.

So today you get not 1, but 3 poems! Hope you enjoy!

Your Youness

Yesterday I actually went in a few shops! After almost 15 pandemic months of staying out of most indoor public spaces, what use to be an ordinary act contained all the excitement of a winning lotto ticket coupled with the enjoyment of a yummy ice cream cone. My friend and I oohed and ahhed at all the cute little shops and lovely things we happened upon, enjoyed a scrumptious lunch and just had a really nice day. I fell in love with several unique papercraft pieces and came home and began working on my own flamingo. (pictured below)

Poetry is very subjective. Some believe poem #480 speaks about Dickinson’s love of God and others believe she is referencing her untold love for a man/woman. In both cases, the answer to the question asked in the first line -“Why do I love you Sir?” , is simply “because”. While acknowledging that love resists reason and logic, the narrator loves because it could not possibly be any other way. Today’s Carol and Emily poem speaks to being attracted to one who stands tall and proud in their “youness”, one not deterred by bullies, nor afraid to embrace their individuality.

I know I’m not always able to be that person, that unflappable flamingo. I’m a work in progress and the challenge to embrace my uniqueness, flaws, weaknesses and eccentricities is ongoing. May we all help each other find that path.


Emily Dickinson’s Love Life – Emily Dickinson Museum

“The Manner of Its Death”

I’m back after taking a little break to delve into my other creative projects! I wrote this poem just this morning as memories of my 4 year old daughter skipped through my brain. In her poem, Emily spoke on one her favorite subjects, death. She seemed to be saying that one should be able to choose their manner of death, much as she chose her burial attire and the manner in which she wanted her own death to be recognized.

When she ventured outside her Amherst home, Emily explored as an avid naturalist, and spent much time surveying, cataloguing and appreciating the wide variety of life forms. As a mother of two young children, I sought to get them outside as much as possible and to let them learn from and experience all the wonders of the natural world. On one particular trek through the woods in back of our North Carolina mountain home, my 4 year old daughter came upon a tiny fallen bird, unmoving and sadly dead. This poem is about how she reacted.

The next morning we arrived at the doorway to her Montessori preschool and she presented the Directress with the shoebox containing her discovery. As all good teachers do, during morning circle she used it as a teaching moment, as the littles solemnly passed the box around and they talked about what might have happened to the tiny bird. A simple playground burial followed, with the preschoolers expressing their genuine and heartfelt care for the tiny creature. Life is beautiful and poignant, gentle and harsh. May we all be as bold as preschoolers in expressing that same kind of genuine and heartfelt care for each other.

“The Moon Is Distant From the Sea”

Very distant indeed. It’s an average of 238,855 miles from Earth. And yet, its gravitational pull makes it a mighty force. Orbiting Earth approximately every 27.3 days, it is the second brightest object in the sky, reflecting the light of our brightest, the Sun. Some analysts see poem #429 as a metaphor for Emily’s obedience to God and others see her likening the sea’s obedience to the moon to reversing women’s customary obedience to men. Given our shared aversions to joining the organized church, and to being told what to do by anyone, I lean toward the later interpretation.

As an elementary teacher, I loved to incorporate poetry into not just my language arts instruction, but into the other subjects I taught as well. One year my 3rd graders studied and memorized Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”. Another year I orchestrated a spoken word play of Paul Fleischman’s Joyful Noise, Poems For Two Voices, a delightful book of poems about all types of insects. When lesson planning, I often sought out poems about Math, Science and Social Studies and found them to be very effective tools for teaching all sorts of concepts.

Today’s Carol and Emily Project poem is a short and sweet poem illustrating the moon’s tidal force.

Tim and I

In researching Emily’s poem #196, I learned that the “Tim” in her poetry is thought to have been an alter-ego of hers. Recognizing as she did, the inequities that existed between girls and boys/males and females during her time, she was often outspoken about them in her home. In public she wasn’t perceived as boyish, but inside her home, by her own family, her behavior was often likened to that of a “rascal boy”. Beginning in 1862 she wrote quite a few poems in a masculine voice.

My Carol and Emily poem #196 is dedicated to a dear friend of mine named Tim, whose physical body left this world far too soon. His spirit still lives on, in his children, grandchildren, family and friends, and precious memories of a really good guy live on in my heart. We miss you Tim ❤

The last time we were together, he took me to see some land he wanted to buy and shared his dream of starting an airboat business, taking tourists for rides on the St. John’s River and through the swamps and marshes of its estuaries. Although that dream was never realized, I can see him with that pirate smile on his face, doing that and thriving, something he spent many post-Vietnam years attempting to do.

Art by R. L. Lewis


Patterson, Rebecca. “Emily Dickinson’s ‘Double’ Tim: Masculine Identification.” American Imago, vol. 28, no. 4, 1971, pp. 330–362. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/26302664. Accessed 25 Apr. 2021.

The Portrait

Emily must have written poem #188 while she was dreaming of sunshine and warmer days from her chilly bedroom in Amherst, Massachusetts. She seems to opt for skipping Fall and Winter altogether and staying warm while enjoying the life abundant in Spring and Summer. Here in my corner of the world, there’s usually no lack of warmth or sun, so on this beautiful April morning I breakfasted on my lanai and imagined this scene and the romance of discovering that you are considered someone’s sun.

Happy Saturday from Emily and I. May you enjoy and feel both the warmth of someone’s love and the Sun’s warmth, with plenty of sunscreen of course!