the emily dickinson hour
by Edd Vick
I'm studying the telltales on one of my hovering cameras when Daisy O'Neill touches me lightly on the forearm. "Will I get copies of what you're recording?"
"The whole world will," I say. It's in the contract when you're chosen by the Pastime Foundation to have your mind squirted back for a ridealong with some historical figure.
"Not just what you choose to release to the net," says Daisy. "I'd like copies of all of your feeds." She's a cinematographer. A brilliant one, according to the Foundation nabobs.
I nod. "I'll give you the online password."
Technicians move about doing techie things. A switch here, a knob there, and Daisy's ready to make the leap from her skull into a poet a century and a half gone.
There's something about the elasticity of spacetime that means we can only rip it enough to send somebody back a few times a year, and only for about an hour. The Foundation awards trips to those it deems worthy. Recipients pick from a list of historical figures for whom we've found DNA.
Who did Daisy choose? Not Orson Welles, not Hitchcock, Griffith, or Godard. She speaks of 'negative space' in Dickinson's poetry, of 'slant rhymes' and an obsession with death. "Did you know," she says, "that every poem of hers contained a body, a bed, or a coffin?"
This scene will go into the final cut.
"I memorized all of them," she says. "I try to convert them to images." She looks away from me, and it is in that instant that the lead technician throws his final switch. Her body is turned off while Daisy's mind wings its way back to some time between 1830 and 1886. We can fine-tune it no more; she will have her hour some time during Emily Dickinson's life. May it not be when the poet is asleep or in her mother's womb.
The techs bustle about, keeping Daisy's body breathing, monitoring their esoteric equipment, never paying her more attention than any other machine in the room. Only I and my cameras are watching when her eyes open earlier than expected. She sits up, shedding monitor pads.
"Hello Daisy," I say. "Welcome back."
"Daisy?" She stares around at the machinery, the institutionally drab walls. "The daisy follows soft the sun."