May/June 2021 • Vol. XLIII No. 3 NonfictionMay 3, 2021 |

The Master and Emily

1 The daguerrotype we have is not of her. People always experience recordings of their voices as somehow not their own. But it wasn’t just the sixteen-year-old Emily who didn’t recognize this stranger. Her own family thought it looked nothing like her. They didn’t keep it on display at the Homestead because guests kept asking, in her presence, whose it was. The head—full of a lighter-than-air, lighter-than-ectasy gas, like helium or Shakespeare—tried to float away. That is why the neck looks so long. It’s under strain; it’s getting stretched. The eyes were overlarge and not that dark in real life. The stranger’s pupils had blown on some interior tincture of laudanum. The skin, too, had an otherworldly pallor, even though the real Emily loved to amble every summer out among the Indian pipes and clover. And who is this, Miss Emily? You? Beautiful—as Pictures— No Man drew. 2 A daguerrotype exposed silver-plated copper to light. The plate had to be polished

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Amit Majmudar
Amit Majmudar is a poet, novelist, and translator. His most recent book is Godsong: A Verse Translation of the Bhagavad-Gita, with Commentary (Knopf, 2018).

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1 The daguerrotype we have is not of her. People always experience recordings of their voices as somehow not their own. But it wasn’t just the sixteen-year-old Emily who didn’t […]

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