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Excerpt from ‘Miss Emily’

In this excerpt from Burleigh Mutén’s “Miss Emily,” narrated by young Mac, Dickinson dons a costume and a new identity as she and her youthful cohorts set off on to meet the midnight circus train in Amherst.

“Hmm,” said Miss Emily, tying a long silk scarf around her head so it covered all of her chestnut hair. “It’s a turban!” she announced. “From the Orient!”

I didn’t like her turban. With her hair all gone and her cheeks so wide, Miss Emily looked like a different person — until she giggled her tinkling laugh, and there she was again, leaping down from the workbench onto the floor, pulling the folds of her cape close to herself as she looked each of us in the eye.

“Call me Prosperina — Queen of the Night, if you please, for I will charm the diamond vipers till they dance tonight!” And she wiggled her arm and her hand like a snake.

— Burleigh Mutén

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A grown woman encourages some neighborhood children, including her niece and nephew, to sneak out of their homes after bedtime, dress as “gypsies” and run with her through woods and across fields into town to catch a glimpse of a circus train arriving at midnight. And the grown-up is ... Emily Dickinson? Such is the premise of Shutesbury writer Burleigh … 0

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