Safe Despair it is that raves –
I who am apt to get tearful about any instance,
fictional or real, of loyal love that defies time
or defies prudent self-interest or defies embarrassment
or the pressure of social convention, I am probably
one sort of person whose visible emotion made Dickinson
narrow her fathoming eyes – Dickinson who knew
that what matters is severely apt to be secret and private.
A noisy despair is not despair, she says,
and she implies that my wet eyes are actually
wet with relief at not living in the heart of crisis;
and I intend to be educated by Emily – and by life – though
not too fast, not too soon.
Mark Halliday teaches at Ohio University. His seventh book of poems, Losers Dream On, appeared in 2018 from the University of Chicago Press.