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On Tuesday, January 10th 2017 at approximately 10:30AM EST, Emily Dickinson slipped into my living room using a space and time portal, causing me to lose my spot in The Best American Essays 2014.

Ms. Dickinson said, “Did you get all of my poems about the dragons? They were meant to resonate with people like you.”

I put down my book and sipped my cold coffee.

“The dragons? And people like me?” I said.

She nodded and poked at the screen of my television. “Is this a portal, too?”

“Um, sort of. The dragons?”

“Dragons. Yes. All of my poems are about dragons. I heard my poems survived but the Amherst Dragon Infestation died away and was made secret. Do you think my poems are still good enough out of context?”

“Ms. Dickinson-”


“Emily, I refuse to believe all of your poems are about dragons. Come on…”

“Whether it’s through ambiguity or through allusions to background dragon masters, they were always there. Always. I have the power to kill… dragons… without the power to die. Ask me about a poem.”

“Well, how about I Felt a Funeral in My Brain?”

True Story.

True Story.

She spun around, almost cheerfully, and said, “And the mourners to and fro kept treading – treading under the fiery dragon skies, til it seemed that sense was breaking through. Also, because a dragon was trying to chew on my lovely tippet. See?” She extended her tippet out to me. “Teeth marks from the spawn of hell demons. That wouldn’t fit in the stanza.”


“How could such an integral understanding be overlooked for so long?”

“About that portal, though…”

“Hold on,” she said. She disappeared back through the portal, and the last I saw of her, she was running away with Abe Lincoln’s hat into a blooming orchard, as though all the years gone were at the other end of a wavering tunnel, just out of our reach.

The portal closed and now, at 1:10PM, I’m wondering if life as it is currently known is true at all.

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then –