An Essay: Untitled (or She Never Did Like Titles)

June 29, 2020

I.


If you google search “Emily Dickinson,” nearly 8 million results
instantly pop up, most containing short biographies, each
painting a different picture of the mythical Woman in White.
Which version do we believe?


She was born in a college town that’s an hour east of my college town.
She was born on the 10th day of the 12th month, though 166
years before me.
What are the chances of that?


II.


She attended an all-girls’ institution
Mount Holyoke Female Seminary


(I went to Nazareth Academy where
theology classes made up 25% of my education)


And while there’s something to be said
For an all-girls’ education,
She more or less got kicked out
For not believing in God.


(I, too, am a godless woman)


III.
Her sister Lavinia
Described her as lonely,
her poems demonstrating
“living in a state of want”


But she woke before dawn
Every day of her life


(I may be lonely but I don’t do that.
Rising before the sun is hardly a sign of depression.)


There’s something mystical about her
As if she knew something the rest of us did not


(I’m convinced she did)


IV.


After the funeral in her brain metastasized to the rest of her body,
men were quick to slice up her posthumous soul, leave it in
tatters.


(Man’s favorite activity: to break Woman down into palatable
pleasure pieces)

 
Haphazardly strung the scraps back together and dared to call it
Hers.


V.


Emily is not dead.
She has simply been “Called Back”
Her gravestone says so.

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