More Nobody Than Emily
by Mary Langer Thompson

i’m as invisible as a stealth bomber.
It’s me flying over you, i say,
but you don’t hear me.
my shape slides through the air unseen
drifting through clouds.
Crows caw, caw, caw.
i spew few fumes
yet taste fuel on raw lips.
Flight feels like cinders hitting me,
dross tossed by Emily Dickinson
because she was nobody, too.

But i’m more nobody than she is.
i’m as nobody as a dust devil dancing in the desert,
as hidden as a forgotten faultline
as unseen as a soffit under the eaves of your home,
as termite damage in your uninspected walls.
i speak words, and they shrivel
like blackened wicks,
my shine hidden in a bushel.
i’m as “whatever” as you can get.
Old Em there to scoff at it all.

But someday i’ll make the automatic lights
come on with my presence,
or even just one clap.
Em’ll have to salute me to unrecognize me —
it could happen —
even as the temblor finally registers itself and says,
“I’m shakin!”
Even as the bombs fall,
making an impact,
at last.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: .My yearbook photo, Class of ’66, Herbert Hoover High School, Glendale, California.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: At 17, I hadn’t yet heard or learned to take Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”


Mary Langer Thompson
’s poems, short stories, and essays appear in various journals and anthologies. She is a contributor to two poetry writing texts, The Working Poet (Autumn Press, 2009) and Women and Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching (McFarland, 2012). A retired school principal and former secondary English teacher, Langer Thompson received her Ed.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. She continues to enjoy conducting writing workshops for schools, prisons, and in communities in and around the high desert of California.