A Note to Miss Moore

by Moira Egan

  Looking up the history
of the word spinster, I come
  across spike, spindle, spine;
  spinescent: one I’m sure
you’d have loved: “developing or
   ending in a spine or thorn,
   also, covered with spines,”

   all those difficult, spiky
creatures you admired, armored
   against the world, intro-
   verted as the average poet.
Pangolin, paper nautilus:
   your jeweler’s loupe of an eye
   limned each bright scale and shell.

   What was it like, I wonder,
to be that woman in black,
   the cape and the tri-corn
   hat, appearing, for all
the world, as a benevolent
   witch? I imagine your house
   in Brooklyn, oddities,

   feathers, kid gloves sent by friends
who actually traveled. Dust
   and loneliness must have
   conquered the fusty rooms
when she died, your mother, your best
   critic and, I imagine,
   friend. Whom did you write to?

Moira Egan’s poetry collections are Cleave; La Seta della Cravatta/The Silk of the Tie; Bar Napkin Sonnets; and, most recently, Spin (Entasis Press, 2010). Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2008. With Damiano Abeni, she has published books in translation by John Barth, Mark Strand, Josephine Tey, and John Ashbery, whose collection, Un mondo che non può essere migliore: Poesie scelte 1956-2007, won a Special Prize of the Premio Napoli (2009). She has been a Mid Atlantic Arts Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; Writer in Residence at St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Malta; a Writing Fellow at the Civitella Ranieri Center; and a Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center. She has been teaching poetry and literature for many years, and now teaches English and Creative Writing at John Cabot University in Rome.

pixelstats trackingpixel