'Abyss has no biographer —', Emily Dickinson said. Truth is bottomless, and she herself almost invisible. After her death, letters from correspondents were burnt according to her instructions and soon legend replaced living fact. The public learnt to revere a harmless homebody who shut off from life to suffer and contemplate a disappointment in love. Who, then, is there if we pare away the sentimental story that sees the poet through one or other man in her life, or the counter-story that cuts out men in favour of sister-love? Only the poet herself can tell.
I also thought that we might simply tire of one another, in the way that happens in so many long relationships. This column runs 365 days each year, and aside from some brief breaks while I worked on other projects, I’ve consistently assumed the role of Ask Amy while this column grew into its adolescence. I’ve written while onboard planes, trains and ferryboats, sitting in the public library, and in my home office, which is located in an old red barn behind my house. I’ve opened bushels of postal mail, run through eight laptops and (by my estimation) clicked open 500,000 emails.