There were two: shy “Emilie”, quiet “Ellis”.
One assumed a masculine name to mask it;
one dropped sweets and messages in a basket
over the trellis.
Boy or bee, the Belle would take rules and bend them
with her slant on rhythm and rhyme and nectar.
As for Ellis, no one would dare respect her
should she offend them
with a tale of blustering heights of passion
written by a maidenly preacher’s daughter.
One despaired of finding an imprimatur,
wearing an ashen
wardrobe, watching, stitching her words together.
Dreams of Gondal! Dreams of a secret lover!
Still the skittish poet(ess) runs for cover:
birds of a feather
may in mortal fear of the prejudicial,
even now, when tempted to seek admission,
approbation, countenance, recognition,
use the initial.
(by Catherine Chandler. Originally published in Mezzo Cammin, Volume 1, Issue 2, Winter 2006)