Poem for Janet G. by Emily D.

When I was a freshman in college, I was terribly homesick and somewhat fragile. I called my parents and told them I wanted to drop out of college and become a cashier at Wal-Mart.

At night, I would sob myself to sleep. It was sad. In an effort to find a bit of solace and comfort, I went to my dorm resident advisor, Janet, and asked if I could sleep in her room. I was too lonely to endure another night by myself. Janet said I could sleep in her room as many nights as I needed.

One evening, Janet grabbed a book of Emily Dickinson poetry and read “If You Were Coming in the Fall” to me. We read a lot of Emily my freshman year.

Janet graduated and became a minister at a small church in Georgia. And then she got terribly ill and died of cancer. She was a life saver to me, so this poem is for Janet.


If You Were Coming in the Fall

by Emily Dickinson

If you were coming in the fall,
I'd brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I'd wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I'd count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen's land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I'd toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time's uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.


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