Oh, Robin!


a robin perches outside my window every dawn

jet black orbs silently asking

why am I so pained by someone 

who saw me only as a pawn


oh Papa, you don’t understand –

it was for hope – 

it is for love!

but Magpie has never felt so alone


clichés are a fool’s game

but with you –

I loved them just the same – 


you were entranced by a slender figure

there on the rapids

Tall. Patient. Solitary. 

while I –

I was prey to the glint in your eyes


there and then, I fell

without fear –

in love, not with the view

just the sight of you


‘two for joy’, they say, but

it was a heron, my dear


oh Papa, before you left

you were wise and old

so tell me –

Robin, tell me!

if ‘hope is a thing with feathers’

why do I feel so cold?


This poem is largely inspired by the supposed, yet forbidden, love between Emily Dickinson and her sister-in-law, Susan Huntington Dickinson. They shared 36 years of correspondence, many of which had been censored and misinterpreted. The passion and frustration between the two women can be sensed from their intimate letters and poems, which are beautiful to read.

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