I Am So Great

That the tree that owns itself

is not itself might disappoint you

like it disappointed me.


Its predecessor toppled, sorry to say,

roots rotting, and then Junior Ladies

regrew it with an acorn and care.


Emily Dickinson is not so great,

my father tells me. Cecily,

take vitamins, and sleep enough. Yes,


Emily Dickinson is no John Donne,

John Donne is no William Shakespeare,

and who knows really who he was?


The Colonel who truly bore a great love

for the white oak had a great desire

that the oak be self-possessed,


and thus he willed it. One afternoon,

optimistically, Emily and a cousin

no one much remembers decided


to be distinguished. I lived by that tree.

Neither of us was very important,

but it was the more distinguished,


the road narrowing to a single lane

to give it reach. All the vehicles

slowed down, everyone that passed


passed with hesitation.


 
 
fcny