EMILY ELIZABETH DICKINSON, 1830–1886 JOSIAH WILLARD GIBBS, 1839–1903
Never married, never moved from their Family Home.
I am so potent, I can reach you only after wave upon wave of dilution. You will re-discover, but not read me. I have built a language to make my work more pure.
A pure inquiry—into unity—has concerned this nation ever since it claimed Independence through union. Cornerstones of the Church on the Green in New Haven, monuments
to Regicide: Dickinson, a Fire Bride, a bomb, a volcano. As alive, or more so, in the grave as out of it. Showing us this across the garden fence of the grave. Speaking in the tomb, of the tomb, as of a ride,
one of many, every poem one of many, No-name inquiries— but we have her numbered. Is Dickinson articulate? Did Higginson, Johnson, Franklin—would Bloom, if Bloom spoke of her—make her [End Page 355]
articulate? She said the grave gave her language. Whitman said the future, always sampling the future, enlisting the future, and Gibbs a prisoner, of his own unwillingness to auction
his mind, who built a mathematic language to make his work more pure— who made it so pure, it sublimed instantly into zones of power and remains enthroned there, isolated there. The supremely
articulate among us, Amistad Africans, mutineers for freedom on the ship they commandeered, stole from the captain and steered by their own light—and by starlight—to a New World, a rock-bound
coast; a world not wilderness alone, but Wilderness with courts in it, and canon, and codes of presentation, a world of sacred language their own language attacked, active virus, ancient
knowledge that it was, they perplex— No translator. No way-maker. No wizard wise woman sponsor. Only the Valley itself of the Connecticut River, who brought from itself,
with the help of Sarah, Jonathan Edwards. A valley itself with its snow and snow water. So far from Home.
I am so potent, I can reach you only by submitting to wave upon wave of dilution. So potent only I can reach you: now. Soon.
Stephanie Strickland has published seven books of print poetry, most recently Dragon Logic (2013), and collaborated on seven electronic poems, most recently “Sea and Spar Between,” a poetry generator written with Nick Montfort. Her prize-winning volume from Penguin, V: WaveSon.nets / Losing L’una, will appear in a new edition with accompanying app for mobile devices from SpringGun in 2014. Two of her digital pieces appear online in The Electronic Literature Collection Volume 2. (See http://stephaniestrickland.com.)
1. © Stephanie Strickland, from True North, University of Notre Dame Press, 1997. [End Page 356]