An Open Letter to Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul;

And sings the song without the words

And never stops at all.

Emily Dickinson, you are a wonder. How the world could not see

the quiet thoughts that you had nestled in your heart

I do not know

but you gave every boat a compass and every glade a certain slant of light

and for that I am grateful. And yet-

here, Emily Dickinson-

here I must disagree with you, because, Emily Dickinson, hope is

not a bird.

No.

Hope is not a bird.

Hope is a mountain.

It is a white-fingered mountain

a fist thrust upward against the morning sky in victory. It is

quiet solitude

like

the clouds

wrapped up in a gift to you

as you stand on that mountain and look at all the beauty and all the pain that you crawled through so you could reach through and brush the stars with the tips of your tiny pale fingers – endowed like light – and face the glory of the sun again.

But this time on top.

Hope is the thing

that

when you have fallen from that mountain into the pits of despair, when you are crawling on your knees –

again –

through the mud and the rocks torn and rent into sharp ragged needles

again

for the umpteenth time in what you hope, what you so desperately need to be the last time, but which you know probably won’t be, and you are suffering and

your

knees are

bloody and dripping the rocks with slow, silent, scarlet-careful rain

it is the thing

that says

“Keep

going.

Keep going.

Just a

little bit longer.”

Hope- hope is the thing that picks you up when you have fallen so far and broken so many bones that you can’t even count and the pain rolls through your fingers like thunder and lightning and you can’t stop and it’s

so –

frightening –

 

 

 

 

hope is the thing that picks you up and nestles you up against the soft folds of its heart

and says “it’s okay. Ssshhhhhh.

It’s okay. I’ve got you.” Hope is the thing

that heals

when all else turns to fierce anger and hollow rotten consternation

that heals when

the one thing you can do is stare at the cold, cold light and wonder why-

why have I come so far only to fall so hard and go so deep that it seems I can’t get out of this sleep

WHY

 

 

Hope-

hope is a wild thing!

Hope is the thing that burns on long after all else has gone cold and dark and mysterious, and shattered in pieces around you.

It is the thing that rears its head when it is bloodied and bruised and torn and broken on the floor and says

NO.

NO, I WILL FIGHT.

I WILL FIGHT THROUGH THE NIGHT

I WILL FIGHT AND I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU SAY.

I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK.

YOU WILL PUSH ME TO THE EDGE, YOU WILL PUSH ME TO THE BRINK,

BUT I WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT.

YOU HAVE NOT BEGUN TO SEE THE LAST OF ME YET.    NO.

I WILL FIGHT UNTIL THE EARTH FALLS

AND STOPS IN ITS TRACKS; I WILL FIGHT UNTIL THE STARS BURN FROM THE HEAVENS AND SCORCH THE DYING BLACKNESS WITH THEIR SMARTING BRILLIANCE AND GIFT TO THE WORLD THEIR LAST WANING LIGHT

I WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT.

And-

You cannot take that from me.

You will not take that from me.

Because I am HOPE.

 

Hope is the thing

that when your last tears have fallen

burns

still

and says “Just give a

little

bit

more.

Just a little bit longer; you are SO CLOSE YOU ARE ALMOST THERE.

You’re more than living on a prayer!, you’re living on

hope.

Hope is the fire that burns in your veins, that dances on the tips of your words in smug symphonies when you know the very fingers of the words you speak drop manna from the heavens to your soul and to others;

hope

is the crystallized-honey structure of your bones;

hope is the

branching neurons that fire at the first sign of blinking day

and the cells

and the mitochondria

and the dendrites and the ribosomes and the nuclei and

all the other things

that could possibly make you you.

Hope is what you’ve

got.

So no, Emily Dickinson, thank you

but no.

Hope is not a bird.

Hope is a voice.

Hope is you.

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