Myself will have its fun.

In winter, there may be activities abroad I would enjoy if I could get my lazy bum in gear. 

To overwhelm the urge to seek fireside retreats, Emily Dickinson’s “In Winter in my Room” creates the tale of a suggestive, humorous encounter.

In Winter in my Room
I came upon a Worm
Pink, lank and warm
But as he was a worm
And worms presume
Not quite with him at home
Secured him by a string
To something neighboring
And went along –

A Trifle afterward
A thing occurred
I’d not believe it if I heard
But state with creeping blood
A snake with mottles rare
Surveyed my chamber floor
In feature as the worm before
But ringed with power
The very string with which
I tied him – too
When he was mean and new
That string was there –

I shrank – “How fair you are”!
Propitiation’s Claw —
“Afraid he hissed
“Of me”?
“No Cordiality” –
He fathomed me –
Then to a Rhythm Slim
Secreted in his Form
As Patterns swim
Projected him.

That time I flew
Both eyes his way
Lest he pursue
Nor ever ceased to run
Till in a distant Town
Towns on from mine
I set me down
This was a dream.

The little “Pink lank and warm” visitor victoriously subdued with a string tied to, “something neighboring”, is a slightly annoying but familiar fellow.  Since I know the author of this poem spent countless hours with indoor and outdoor flowers; planting, coaxing, studying, adoring and sharing them, I wonder how many times she could have said, “I came upon a Worm”

What a comic scenario! Not wanting to destroy the worm but knowing “worms presume” their way into self-selected routes the poem is tying up a worm! Horses, yes. Cattle. Even dogs. But a worm? As dreams do, this one confronts the folly by having the tiny creature become a snake imbued with enough qualities of supposed reality to create continuity. Dreams find continuity any way they can. Like a good story. Like a sane life.

No more silent reading by the fire. No more gazing at slants of light on snow wondering how it connects so precisely with my worst dread.

“ ‘How fair you are’ ”, he said.

I think there may be no more fully engaging act than “Propitation…” when I am compelled to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of someone. To use the word with claw connotes fear if I feel I need to appease someone. But I wonder if anyone without a really healthy sense of self can bring herself to do it.  

The conversation continues. “ ‘Afraid he hissed / Of me’?  ”. Moi!! “ ‘No Cordiality’ ”

You got it, buster.

Now the poem shifts immensely. “He fathomed me — ” , said with quick intake of breath, may be about the limit in testimony to intimacy. Then…

“That time I flew…/ Nor ever ceased to run/Till in a distant Town.”                                                                                                                           Okay. Whatever it takes, I must get out of the house, today.

Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way

 

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