Poem : My Cocoon Tightens…

Emily Dickinson isn’t always my favorite poet. As I’ve grown older and explored my taste and the wide world of poetry, I’ve found other poets who use language like sharp knives that cut straight to my core – Mary OliverMary HoweJulia KasdorfWalt Whitman. Dickinson’s words often need deciphering, and I’m not always patient enough for that.

But this poem spoke to me when I was sixteen, barely out of my own coccoon, wings still wet with adolescent angst. I even wrote an essay around it for advanced composition, which is hiding somewhere in an old desk drawer.

Pulling my small collection of Dickinson off the shelf last night, the page fell open to this and her words, like they did nearly a decade ago, reach the deepest parts of me. I cloak myself in the imagery, remembering who I was and how I related to it then – like my pink converse sneakers and endless supply of black t-shirts. Somehow the poem feels a fitting reminder that while she was not yet me, I am her; I am the sixteen year old me that still roves over this particular passage of Dickinson, wondering at my own wings and what it all means.

Time and Eternity, LVIII

My cocoon tightens, colors tease,
I’m feeling for the air;
A dim capacity for wings
Degrades the dress I wear.

A power of butterfly must be
The aptitude to fly,
Meadows of majesty concedes
And easy sweeps of sky.

So I must baffle at the hint
And cipher at the sign,
And make much blunder, if at last
I take the clue divine.