The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Rachel Dacus

I Take Emily Dickinson to the Movies


She insists on paying,
but I get her the senior discount.
In her time, moving pictures
were just a glint in Edison’s eye.
Poetry lived in genteel prisons
but she made them prismatic
as the previews of coming attractions,
jewel thieves scaling skyscrapers,
car bombs exploding beneath palm trees,
images making her small jaw drop.

Emily passed through the curtain
and slipped off her white earth suit,
but she’s highly alive as she drums
fingers on her thigh, impatient
for the story to take off.
She sits so still in her plush seat,
slowly feeding herself one kernel
of popcorn at a time, unmoving mouth
a silent scream of an O.

Of course I took her to the iMax theater
and we sat in the highest back row,
under quad speakers. Of course, Jurassic Park
is now blaring into our ears. She knits
her tiny hands in worry
like a small Tyrannosaur.
Girlfriend, we need more popcorn, I say.
She startles as I step over her tiny toes.

By the second feature I’m back.
How to explain My Man Godfrey
to a woman who has never picked up a man
on a scavenger hunt. I must explain
it as the same way I shanghaiied
my favorite ghost poet,
who chews like happy child,
knowing these flickers as only the newest
paintings on a cave wall.




RACHEL DACUS is the author of Gods of Water and Air, a collection of poetry, prose, and drama, and the poetry collections Earth Lessons and Femme au Chapeau. Her poetry and prose has appeared in Atlanta Review, Boulevard, Prairie Schooner, The Pedestal, and Valparaiso Poetry Review, as well as in many other journals and anthologies. The Renaissance Club, her time travel novel involving the great Italian sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini, is forthcoming in January 2018 from Fiery Seas Publishing.



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