Parting Glances: A 135-Year-Old Request Fulfilled

I celebrated the return of Spring three weeks ago by helping to fulfill a 135-year-old request by America's beloved poet, Emily Dickinson (1830-1886).
That recent memorable day in March was occasioned by what poet Emily might say was radiantly highlighted by "a certain slant of light."
It was sunny. Warm. Brilliant … nature stirring. Sixty-five degrees of newly reawakened Spring.
The occasion was indeed all that, and so very much, much more to me.
I was having an impromptu lunch and outdoor celebration with two good friends I had known, admired and worked closely with for slightly over 30 years: Jan Stevenson and Susan Horowitz, the newly retired co-publishers of Between The Lines Newspaper.
Because of the ever-looming darkness and oppression of COVID-19, Jan, Susan and I had not seen each other for a gloomy, oppressive, social-distancing year.
Our reunion was given a comforting, hopeful touch because as we reunited, all three of us had each gotten our two COVID-19 vaccinations weeks before.
Seemingly out of the surrounding bluest of blue skies, we had an unexpected drop-in guest as well.
"Well. Well! Look who here," Jan said. "A robin! A sure sign that Spring is either here or on its longed-for way."
"Share this," said Susan, handing me a convenient table cookie that I crumbled and tossed artfully in the direction of our winged guest who unexpectedly flew away.
"Birds are smart," Susan observed. "This one wants just a few crumbs more."
I tossed two, three, four and, indeed, the clever robin returned and stayed put. It ate contentedly and took off again. Mission accomplished.
I recalled to mind an Emily Dickinson poem that was her heartfelt, poetic request that we, reunited three, had also just honored that unblemished Spring-returns-to-Michigan day.
Emily wrote a century ago:
"If I shouldn't be alive / when the robins come / give the red cravat a memorial crumb — / If I couldn't thank you, / being fast asleep, / You will know that I am trying / with my granite lip."
So honored to do so, Emily. Kind thanks for your eternal verse. Virtual hugs to you from Jan, Susan, Charles and our, somewhat flighty, winged guest.


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