I picked up my old college edition of selected Emily Dickinson poems on an impulse and opened at random — I read 97, 99, 98, 103, 100, 102, 101, and said, “No more! My brain’s exploded, this is so much in so few words —”
It was another example of the power of the book shelf — what fireworks await the brave soul who dares pull one down and peek inside — the passion and the mind that crafted the words together — almost too much to comprehend, and yet comprehension was what she sought.
The book, not nearly as ravished as it deserves after near 50 years, but at least as evidence this is not my first exploration since college, here’s a note inside marking “137, 168, 1” but tucked between pages 150 and 151, as if to suggest poems 170, 171, 172, and/or 173 hold some treasure I wanted to return to.
And here are two drops of coffee on the cover as evidence I’ve been here since my coffee-less college days, but the note (”War — Stan Lee, QVC, Wednesday, 8-10 p.m.”) is from a pad with a former wife’s name, circa early 1990s, so it’s about 30 years since I last heard from Emily. I feel shame, but then I see so many other minds to mine on these shelves, and her volume is slim and unassuming, easy to overlook. Still — but still, here she is now.