The poignancy of a comparatively weak adversary, with fixed resources, going up against one with unlimited power always makes a good story. Emily Dickinson’s “Time feels so vast that were it not”, assumes her culture’s belief in limited time contrasted with time unlimited, “For an Eternity”.

My first New England snowstorm became real this morning before dawn when I was grateful for the high-top work boots I almost discarded several times while living in the South.

As I walked out with my two startled dogs, my only memory of similar white impressionistic landscapes was in 1993. The South came to a standstill that winter for a week and I was without electricity. Nothing to do but hope my food would hold out; be glad I had plenty of blankets and books to read. And, exchange occasional stop-ins with neighbors for encouragement.

Time feels so vast that were it not
For an Eternity –
I fear me this Circumference
Engross my Finity –

To His exclusion, who prepare
By Process of Size
For the Stupendous Vision
Of His Diameters –

Like the poem, I “… who prepare/By Process of Size” saw my life take on the qualities of making do, hunkering down until….

But, the poem implies, rhetorically, If it weren’t for having to think about eternity, I might think this life, ‘this Circumference’, enough to sustain my finite power to pay attention.

Does anyone ever ask: What would it take to “Engross my Finity”, absorb my attention in this life? (Although “finity” is one of those Dickinson words the dictionary forgot to print, its derivation from finite is all too obvious.)

I suppose contemplating marriage or career are ways to ask the question. Does the idea of eternity stand in the way of our becoming enthralled with day to day life? With our decisions of life partners, business ambitions? If not eternity and threat of eternal doom, what then?

In fact, to “prepare / By Process of Size” of heaven, or of a job, or, of the size of desire to be understood (most of literature), if I, “who prepare”, do so “To His (eternity’s) exclusion” of self-understanding, what then? Will I sacrifice “… the Stupendous Vision” that may occur in one day?

I don’t know why I surrendered so willingly in 1993. Perhaps I was infected by the cultural and practical lack of coping skills. (No snowplows). I said, “Enough!” when I ran out of Sterno to boil coffee, and phoned my son. From their university campus, he and a friend were starting out in a four-wheel-drive truck when my electricity came on.

The intensity of those few days has always stayed with me.

Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way

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