Remembering Emily

Last week, I learned how some conveniences of iPhone apps can turn into inconveniences.

In my Amazon app, I had selected a hardcover edition of the complete works of Emily Dickinson, but when I touched the screen to scroll down, I mistakenly hit the “1-Click” purchase button.

That sucker went through. Immediately.  There was no “Are you sure?”  It was all, “Awesome! We’re billing you and pulling it off the shelf. Right. Now!”  I tried to cancel it from the phone.  I tried to cancel it from the Website via my computer.  No go.  Thirty-five bucks gone.

Later that day when I broke the news to my husband:

Him: Good grief!  Good thing it wasn’t my Wish List.  I’ve got a $2,000 drum set on there.

Me: You’ve got a $2,000 drum set on your Wish List?!?

Him: It’s called a WISH list!

Moving on, I hit that “1-click” button on Tuesday, and the order arrived on Friday.  If it were a Christmas present, it probably would have been backordered until February, with my luck.

Since its arrival, the book has reminded me of what brought me to Dickinson in the first place.  She was my first favorite poet.  My English classes in high school never really delved into poetry, but I remember browsing through my literature book during my sophomore in high school and finding “Because I could not stop for death / He kindly stopped for me.”

Her personification of death had me transfixed.  Having lost my grandfather months before (my first experience with death of a close relative), I felt comforted by her words.  She had a huge influence on me.  On the one hand, I started using a lot of dashes in my poems, but I think her work also helped me start moving away from my cheesy, sappy stuff.  Granted, I had dozens of horrible poems left in me.  Poems so bad that they couldn’t win a bad poetry contest.  Poems so full of cheese that a gallon of port wine couldn’t offset the sharpness.  Poems so cheesy they could have restocked the cheese shop in the Monty Python skit…


Emily was the subject of my junior year term paper, but I had a habit of picking lousy term paper topics in high school.  I made a C, and I was so disheartened and thought that maybe I didn’t understand her at all.  It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I had a great breakthrough.  I took a colonial American literature class as an independent study, and I decide to take another crack at Emily by examining the role of mathematics in some of her poems.  I got an A and a comment from my professor that I should look into trying to get the paper published.

I eventually moved away from writing poetry.  The lines I wrote kept getting longer and longer and turned into stories.  Every now and then, however, I’m inspired by an image or a phrase that pops in my head.  And Emily still has her place in my heart.  She was the poet I turned to for the right words to go into the program at my wedding.

So, the accidental purchase has been a pleasant surprise.  But I did also follow my husband’s advice about the 1-click purchase:  “You need to turn that shit off.”


Thoughts, anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

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