Judge Tenderly of Me
This is about the finish line. Whatever that line means to you.
In my American Lit class we have been studying Emily Dickinson and discussing her poems. The young girl next to me, astounded at my 99 percent on the midterm asked me how I studied. My reply was tailored to the millennial attention span.. but what I tried to say was this, "Ellie. When I read a poem I feel the poet and their style. I don't need to take notes on Emily Dickinson. I get her. I want to run amidst the flowers and get high on the nectar of nature. I simply put myself in the position of the poets and authors that I read. And through them, I live." Ellie went back to her notes and I went back to spying on the kids in class.
This darling girl, Ellie, she takes a lot of notes. She is young and works at Sephora and wears furry slippers to class. There are hundreds (it feels like) of bodies and souls in this class that I watch for clues about human nature in the next generation. Looking around I see that life is going to go on without me someday and these tattooed, pierced, blue haired and fuzzy slippered people are the future.
The great news is that they are all using hydro flasks and not plastic bottles. It's a huge no-no to bring any plastic bottle on a college campus these days. Other good news is that they (we) aren't divided. In every class from African-American studies to Milton to math, we are all a team. We all find commonalities. We are all so different it doesn't matter. And we do discuss it. We discuss the fact that we aren't as divided as the world would think.
And about that finish line. Emily Dickinson had time to write 1800 poems and will be remembered long past my lifetime; she was never married, she never worked, never had kids and lived in Amherst, Massachusetts her entire life. My God I would be writhing in spiritual agony if I were her! Not that there is anything wrong with her lot; she produced great works and she definitely had her demons, but c'mon it's not hard to write poetry under those conditions.
Amongst the tragedies and sadness in our community and elsewhere, I have found very little will to write beyond the pages I have to assemble for my classes. I have had very little to draw upon until Emily Freaking Dickinson woke me up again to the beauty in the world. The past is so like the present. It's time to pick my head up and drink in the nectar of all the seasons. As Emily said:
This is my letter to the World
That never wrote to Me-
The simple News that Nature told-
With tender Majesty
Her message is committed
To Hands I cannot see -
For love of Her - Sweet- countrymen
Judge tenderly of Me
Judge tenderly. Of all of us. Goodnight.