Encore: More of Parallel Press Poets is an anthology of poetry from Parallel Press poets. The collection is wonderfully representative of the poetry chapbook series that started in 1999. Each of the forty poets contributed a poem and a statement commenting on their experience with writing the poems. The anthology also contains a foreword by Ken Frazier, Director of the UW-Madison Libraries.
“To Emily Bronte” by Andrea Potos
Eleven years old and sunk in the red velveteen
chair at the Fox Bay Theater, I absorbed
the raw sculpture of Penistone Crag,
bracken and gorse, the peat
blanketing the Yorkshire moors. Heathcliff
with his sea-green eyes, black cape swirled
around him, how tall and alarmingly
handsome he looked.
At Catherine¹s grave he cried, you wrote:
I cannot live without my life,
desire held hostage in his eyes,
my heart held stunned in my chest.
Years later, I return to your words;
travel to the stone-
flagged floors of your home;
your desk-box saved under glass,
its lining worn, purple velvet
splotched with red sealing wax.
Walking the rocky footpath towards swells
of purple heather, I remember the words
of the local stationer who saw you
returning one evening: her countenance was lit up
by a divine light. I imagine
I hear your skin
brush mine, whisper what you know:
the silence, the stars
that burn through the page.
Hone the hours to their core-you might have said-
wind and poem, passion and moor.
Since girlhood I’ve been enthralled with the Bronte sisters, their books and their lives. I’ve loved the other-worldly wildness of the English moors-Emily’s moors, Catherine Earnshaw’s and Heathcliff’s moors. When I took my pilgrimage to the Bronte Parsonage in August of 2001, the heather was in profuse and startling purple blossom. I walked onto the moors just as it began misting rain; there wasn’t another person in sight. “What could be more perfect than this?” I thought.
A young and gorgeous Timothy Dalton starred in the 1971 movie version, of which this poem speaks. He was the quintessential Heathcliff. That movie haunted me; I saw it over and over again. I still haven’t recovered.