Emily Dickinson in her own words: ‘Death is potential to that Man’ (548)

Emily Dickinson in her own words

Colin Gee

Lying on my deathbed as I was, inspecting the sky for signs of vultures and priests, I contemplated the life I had led — the life of Man, of Warrior.

There was the time I had stolen my brother Austin’s pants and walked to town in them, every hair in place, and for years they thought his hair was curly. ‘Emily, have you taken my trousers and gone a-courtin in my antique wig again,’ he gagged, tongue always getting in the way when he talked.

Then there was the incident at the FRESH FRUIT stand two summers past, a non-literally shady place whose fruit was anything but fresh, run by Mrs. Mabel Loomis Todd, though she never raised a finger on her own account, but hired some slutty neighbor girls to do the heavy lifting. Even some of the fruit had been painted, I screamed as I smashed piece after piece upon the hotsome macadam, as the useless passive antpeople scurried past or stood and gawked as though I were somehow at fault for their mendacious, conceited lives and false religions.

Blinking, I gazed long into the sky that would reach down to take me in her cotton-lined embrace, there on the knoll of the cemetery where I was accustomed to pre-enact my own dissolution into the earth, canals of gushing worms, and eternal scudding night.

In the place beyond Death there is a room of one’s own where you can sit and play checkers with a Friend, who may be God. What difference does it make if your opponent at checkers is God, or just another fellow Pilgrim. You are sitting there waiting and you can take your turn and take your turn and take your turn, but you only get one move.

‘Emily,’ shouted Austin from the bottom of Death Mountain, as I always call it with a slight twist to my mouth that people think is my smile, ‘we are leaving, with or without you!’

Reaching with a hand of bones, I move my grave-black piece across the board and snap up three of God’s hopelessly exposed, cherry-red pawns, and yawn.

Death is potential to that Man

Emily Dickinson

Death is potential to that Man
Who dies — and to his friend —
Beyond that — unconspicuous
To Anyone but God —

Of these Two — God remembers
The longest — for the friend —
Is integral — and therefore
Itself dissolved — of God —