It was the slight gap between her front teeth that gave her away and took my breath.
I had a feeling when I left home that something special would happen today. So when I saw her coming down the escalator that I was going up, I saw the ghost of Emily, the little girl now grown up and older that I had ﬁrst fallen in love with and who had loved me back, at least for a few days, when we were on the playground of our elementary school back when the world was much younger and so was I.
The day had started with a great discovery. I had every reason to smile, since it was the day Emily Dickinson had been born, some 182 years ago. I have always enjoyed her poetry, despite some fun my friend Robin, a retired English professor at James Madison University, has with her when he quips that all her poetry can be set to the music of The Yellow Rose of Texas.
The Emily of the escalator, though, was not the Emily of the playground. My childhood playmate had grown over the years into a real beauty with much charm and humor, even though that gap had never closed enough to please her.
But like the Belle of Amherst, she was taken before her time, perhaps because of an exuberant moment when she let her guard down for a moment’s fatal inattention. When I heard that she was gone, I felt my soul had turned to cinder.
So when this lady of a certain age on the escalator caught my eye for a moment, startling me with what I thought was Emily transported into today and aged appropriately, I went back in time, deep into a somewhat locked vestibule of memory.
I had a slight ﬂutter now knowing what the morning’s anticipation had meant. Over the years, I have tried to manage certain memories. I have even thought I was on the way to accepting the ineluctable without tears. But such parlor tricks are likely to be their own Pucks, rascals that take you on journeys you may not be prepared for.
I’m glad I read of one Emily’s birthday this morning and just as pleased to have had the other Emily also appear today, two ladies always worth celebrating.
As I think of what was triggered in me, I recall one of Ms Dickinson’s poems, which I reprint in her own special syntax:
Presentiment–is that long Shadow–on the Lawn
Indicative that Suns go down
The Notice to the startled Grass
That Darkness–is about to pass