Claudia Emerson was an exemplary late-blooming writer. At age 57, Emerson published an expressive collection of poems, which describes the aspects of the past in relation to the present. In Late Wife, her Pulitzer Prize winning collection, she exudes her raw emotions from her personal life in the form of letters. In Emerson’s poems, “Natural History Exhibits” “Artifact,” and “Eight Ball,” she elucidates the aftermaths of divorce and death. Upon getting a divorce, Claudia Emerson initially grieves the memories of her first marriage. She then goes on to express her unforeseen sense of happiness during her emotional recuperation. Finally, she composes a sequence of sonnets to her new spouse, whose wife had passed away from lung cancer. Through her poems, she expresses the significance of emotional recovery.
II. “Natural History Exhibits”
Literally, this poem refers to women interacting with snakes in a series of four parts. In the first part, the narrator describes her past around snakes. She then describes seeing live snakes in a museum in the second part. Finally, in the last two sections, the narrator recounts finding a snake in the silverware drawer. She also then illustrates how the snake disappeared in the house.
Symbolically, Claudia Emerson uses the snake to represent an abusive man. The death of the snake is used to symbolize the conclusion of that abuse. There is also the use of rain, which is used to illustrate a sense of cleansing and moving forward