On a beautiful September day last year, I drove to Amherst, Massachusetts, solely to explore Emily Dickinson’s home there. Amherst is about as quaint as New England gets — in the heart of the Berkshires in the western part of the state. But it’s also a college town with several colleges, including Amherst College and UMass/Amherst in its midst.
Anyway, back to Emily. I shared the house tour with a friendly Japanese man, who had just brought his daughter back to school for her sophomore year at Amherst. The guide was a retired English teacher, so she shared her best Emily tidbits with me as we lingered in each room of the yellow brick home.
It was late afternoon before I headed out of town for the long ride back to Providence. A small sign pointing to her grave site meant another detour. Again, I was the only person walking among the graves. But I found her stone, in a little gated square of grass among other members of her family.
Emily is stereotyped as a quirky, schoolmarmish little lady. But nothing could be further from the truth. She questioned everything and lived on her own terms. She was a lightning rod of pain and beauty — a wonder.