Thomas Wentworth Higginson

writing to his wife, Mary, August 16, 1870

“Small like a wren”–indeed.
“Hair like a chestnut burr”–yes.
“Eyes the color of sherry”–perhaps,
difficult to ascertain, she seemed to float
into the room, materialized rather,
her light shawl flaring behind.
One eye acknowledged me,
the other looked askance, her angle of vision

resolute if wayward, rather let me say–incorrigible
and, I begin to suspect, both singular
and absolute.

Back in my room at The Amherst, what I recall,
am struck by, how fiercely fragile, skittish,
as if I should breach some perilous etiquette
if straightaway I addressed her or broached
any common subject uncircuitously,
how easily spooked.
Remember your uncle’s Indian mare
that even still barely tolerates a bridle,
the bit foam-flecked
when pulled from her mouth?

My dear, I must check the glass.
Are there hoof prints on my brow?