by Milena Abrahamyan
I am being haunted by Emily Dickinson. She says things like death makes you not see and I could not see to see. Her voice is so quiet and soft I confuse it with the wind or the dull buzzing of a bee.
When I open my eyes the room is dark. She is sleeping next to me. Her body is evaporated poetry. Her breath is snow. It fills the room.
I dream I am making love to her. She has her white nightgown on. I move my hand up to her breast and she says you can never have what you have. My hand hesitates to grasp the tender flesh. I balance myself on top of her and carefully take her face in my hands. She looks nothing like I had expected. Her face is simple, her chestnut hair is light and soft. It almost feels unreal between my fingers.
She looks at me but I cannot be sure who she is looking at. Her eyes hold a childish glare, but there is something else there. Some kind of light behind her eyes. Perhaps immortality.
I bring my mouth close to her ear. She is all goose-bumps. I whisper, “please, I am so hungry.” Her lips barely move when she replies, Hunger is a way of persons outside windows that entering takes away.
I don’t understand this game she is playing. I grow silent and shift my body off of hers. She is cold and alive next to me, refusing to be seduced.
The plenty hurt me, she carries on. We are laying side by side now, facing the ceiling. We are only in a room. It is only night. This cannot be that overwhelming. Besides, she is dead. Nothing can hurt her now.
I many times thought peace had come when peace was far way, she speaks.
She must be listening to the thoughts I am having. Or I must be hallucinating. But then I realize that I am in the midst of a dream. And I shake myself out of sleep.
Emily is sitting on a chair facing the window. It is a moonless night. She is humming to herself. I get out of bed and slowly move toward her. As I get closer and closer I can hear the words she is mumbling, seam by seam, and could not make them fit. She doesn’t stir at the sight of me. Am I the ghost haunting her? Is that why she doesn’t see me? But then she turns to face me with a look of horror in her eyes.
I am all dashes! she cries.
Right away, I’m by her side. I take her head in my hands as if to protect her mind. I am all dashes! she repeats with desperate tears streaming out of her eyes.
The thought behind . . . I strove to join unto the thought before, she speaks cautiously. She looks out through the window as if the thoughts that have rolled out of her mouth are alive in the corners of the night.
I rock her body back and forth. She is stiff as someone in the throes of squeezing into the universe. As if she is the thing that caused the Gap. I think about giants and gnats and envision a question to ask her, but find that the question refuses to take on form.
The crying is gone now and she is breathing lightly. The snow from her breath collects on my shoulders. I take her frozen hand in mine and move toward the bed. I lay her down and cover her up with blankets. She says, Narcotics cannot still the Tooth That nibbles at the soul.
On the other side of the room I am collecting the snow in paper bags. I am not worried about it melting. There is something constant about this snow that comes out of the atmosphere of her lungs.
After I finish and there is not a trace of white left I get into bed with her. I bring extra blankets. Her eyes are closed and at peace.
I am pushed out of sleep by her screams.
Dying! Dying in the night!
Won’t somebody bring the light
So I can see which way to go
Into everlasting snow?
She is hysterical, clutching at the air.
I bring her chamomile tea and lavender. She is inconsolable yet composed. Her body is shaking even with all the blankets I have put around her.
We stay up late into the night. She doesn’t say another word. There is only the sound of distant bells accompanying the deadly silence that has befallen the night. Emily falls asleep in my arms.
I awake in a grave. It is dark as night. Emily is next to me. She says, I can see thee better in the Dark. But I cannot see her. Only her voice is visible. She sounds happier, or relieved. I can’t tell which. She seems at peace.
And the snow is gone.
And the snow is gone.