Claudia Emerson died of cancer on December 4, just this past December 4, at the age of 57, leaving a legacy of beautiful and moving poetry. She had won many awards and grants, including a Pulitzer Prize. Her work speaks to the heart. One could call it “accessible.” But of course it is much more than that. And here are two of them to remember her by.
Frame, An Epistle
BY CLAUDIA EMERSON
Most of the things you made for me—blanket-
chest, lapdesk, the armless rocker—I gave
away to friends who could use them and not
be reminded of the hours lost there,
not having been witness to those designs,
the tedious finishes. But I did keep
the mirror, perhaps because like all mirrors,
most of these years it has been invisible,
part of the wall, or defined by reflection—
safe—because reflection, after all, does change.
I hung it here in the front, dark hallway
of this house you will never see, so that
it might magnify the meager light,
become a lesser, backward window. No one
pauses long before it. But this morning,
as I put on my overcoat, then straightened
my hair, I saw outside my face its frame
you made for me, admiring for the first
time the way the cherry you cut and planed
yourself had darkened, just as you said it would.