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Did I Ever Stop One Heart

Felix Dennis
January 1, 2014
Mandalay, Mustique
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Did I ever stop one heart from breaking?
   Emily, truly, I do not know.
Oh, I tried, but life was full of snaking
   Roller-coasters packed with woe;
So many are born with seat belts worn,
   Squirming as the switchbacks twist
Their dangling seats — half bent and torn...
   One I managed, arm and wrist,
To haul back in; she was sobbing, sighing,
   And, Emily, truly, this is so,
She slapped me as she kissed me, crying —
   ‘Fool! You should have let me go!’

Written in response to Emily Dickinson’s poem ‘ If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking’

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
   I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
   Or cool one pain,
Or help one lonely person
   Into happiness again
I shall not live in vain.

Well, I did save one. That is certain. But what is not certain — not at all — is whether I should have made the attempt and whether she truly thanked me in her heart of hearts for rescuing her from a self-induced overdose. I shall never know. She lives, happily enough, so I hear, to this day, but after an initial warming of my bed (perhaps for thanks, perhaps not) she never contacted me again.