I love cocoons. I love to lie awake for a moment when the alarm goes off so I can feel the warmth of the comforter. I get out of bed to sit in a dark corner with a strong cup of coffee. There is even an element of sequestering with the status quo during the summer when schedules are put on the shelf.  But, fall has other aims. 

A cocoon that tightens can feel great at first. But, the excitement in the air as students of all ages return to classes suggests the next phase. Fall also ushers in, for me, the time of year when I revisit the death of my 16-year-old daughter on November 30, 1983. One horrific transition.

The thing about the poem by Emily Dickinson that begins “My Cocoon tightens — Colors teaze —” is that it summons the best and the worst memories of death and renewal in my life. (Misspellings like teaze are idiosyncrasies of Dickinson’s that jolt us with reminders of just how out of the ordinary are the writings of the poet.) The butterfly’s transition in this poem celebrates the renewal intrinsic to every major change in life. Odd, I suppose, but even though this poem talks of spring’s butterflies, it intrigues me by using words of struggle, dim capacity, demeans, baffle to align itself with various deaths.

My Cocoon tightens — Colors teaze —

I’m feeling for the Air —

A dim capacity for Wings

Demeans 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 —

The poem, just like impositions of change, places the burden of renewal on me when I am being changed.

Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way