Emily Says
Bronte sisters

Mornings in Howarth begin with church bells
Emily appears again while the tourists are still finding the schoolhouse,
Finding the tea rooms and gift shops
Finding the chapel and grave.
“There are always dogs barking here,” she says
“Always wedding parties here,
Playing children here,
Old women on day trips here.”
I’ve never met anyone as dead as her
She carries her cough on her shoulders
Wears her last words like a shawl.
She spends eternity wandering through the village
Always turning her nose up at the Wiccan bookshop.

“Charlotte won’t leave the church”
She tells me.
“Says I’m not to go near them,
Says I’m too contagious
And I’ll make the baby ill.”
I know this already
I’ve seen Charlotte’s shadow from time to time
Pacing through the pews
Like she’s waiting for something.
She needs to wash
Or at least take off her wedding dress
You can smell it from outside.

“And Anne, oh Anne.”
Oh Anne indeed.
The yummy mummies
In the pottery painting café
Say they see her by the window
Looking in at the children.
“She wants to join in,” Emily says
“But she doesn’t want to scare them.
She says we don’t belong here anymore.

“I see Bramwell at night.
It’s hard to tell under the moonlight
But I think his skin is growing mildew.
Yes, I think that’s heather in his hair
I chase him until the sun comes up,
Call his name until the birds start singing
But I think he’s lost to me.”
I’m about to ask her why
She’s the go-between them all
She answers like she heard my thoughts.
“Charlotte won’t leave what God gave her
Though he left us a long time ago,
Anne’s too afraid of herself to appear half the time,
So I only catch her briefly.”
And Bramwell?
Emily says nothing
So I watch her
as she watches the hills that claimed him
and I wonder just who she’s more jealous of.

Cat Wright

If you have any thoughts on this poem,  Cat Wright would be pleased to hear them.