Emily Dickinson’s forty-second poem
Begins “A day! Help! Help! Another day!”
Never considered one of her best,
So far as I know it has not been anthologized.
I love that yelp of hers!
Thank you, Lavinia,
For having disregarded your sister’s explicit
Instructions to upon her death destroy her neatly-tied
One thousand seven hundred seventy-five
Attempts to write a “letter to the World.”
Thank you too, Belknap Press of Harvard University,
For having published them in 1955: three stalwart gray volumes
Slipcased in bright red cardboard. Twenty-five dollars. After deliberation
I bought my set with money earned in R.O.T.C. that year.
A college sophomore, I had never spent so much on any book.
It was partly my way of giving the military
The finger. (R.O.T.C. and I had never been good friends.)
In volume one I encountered the Help! Help! poem
And read its second line: “Your prayers, oh Passer by!”
I have always found that poem her most companionable.