I was reading Billy Collins’s ‘Taking
Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes’— when it
Struck me: all this fuss we’re so busy making
Is the equivalent of ‘Gordon Bennet!’,
Not so much an expression of surprise,
But more the realisation (in disguise)
Of just how alien each life is to others,
How strange our strangeness is, and how it smothers
Any hope of perfect understanding;
Not, perhaps, that we would seek it if we could.
The allure of righteousness notwithstanding:
Who would wish to be perfectly understood?