Like the poem I selected yesterday, today, “The Zeros taught Us – Phosphorus -”, by Emily Dickinson, employs the inclusive pronoun “us.” I think it’s to encourage you and me to read it as if it were a conspiratorial note passed around between school girls. 

The Zeros taught Us – Phosphorus –
We learned to like the Fire
By handling Glaciers – when a Boy –
And Tinder – guessed – by power

Of Opposite – to equal Ought –
Eclipses – Suns – imply –
Paralysis – our Primer dumb
Unto Vitality –

It could just as well be a mirror of the familiar experience of having to acknowledge the several, and interdependent, aspects of myself. I find myself in the extremes of the poem’s frozen zeros versus its light-bearing phosphorus.

For example, today my feelings and emotions threaten to overwhelm my intellect.  While you are simply going about your day, the roiling of my emotions produces an impression for me of “handling Glaciers”. It’s a condition I’ve struggled against all my life, that my thinking is at times so subjective I have trouble relating to others by what I say. If I can find a way to manage myself, I will be able to say, “We learned to like the Fire”.  However — and here is where this poem’s power to describe these tensions is stunning — I feel a strong need to communicate my emotions: “And Tinder – guessed – by power”.

The poem reminds me of the tendency I have to fall into a conversation about a controversy just for the “heat.” I know from past experience this might temporarily satisfy emotions. But, nothing to strengthen our friendship.

My need to communicate, and its drive to be recognized, may result in me “going along to get along.” But, the polar opposite of our starting points, “Of Opposite – to equal Ought -” means I will be eclipsed if two people I have “agreed” with compare my statements. I may become trapped by having been compromised by changing my views with the prevailing wind. “Paralysis – our Primer dumb”.

When I accept that for now my opinions are going to fluctuate I can progress, eventually, “Unto Vitality”.


Digest A Poem A Day – Accept What Comes Your Way