Practising sands

We play at paste,
Till qualified for pearl,
Then drop the paste,
And deem ourself a fool.
The shapes, though, were similar,
And our new hands
Learned gem-tactics
Practising sands.

~EMily dickinson

Brenna: Short and sweet!

Pam: I like short and sweet!

Brenna: Okay, let’s go!

Pam: Oh, I like this!

Brenna: Have you read this one before?

Pam: I haven’t! Have you?

Brenna: I was very familiar with the first four lines, but had somehow never read the last four! I must have seen them quoted somewhere.

Pam: This one is new to me!

Brenna: Excellent! So, let’s talk poem!

Pam: It makes me think of learning something new. Like, starting off with crayons if you’re learning to draw, then getting good enough to realize you’re terrible.

Brenna: Yes! I think, on a surface level, it’s about how the simple things we learn as children transfer to adulthood.

Pam: But you’ve still learned valuable skills. Yes!

Brenna: But I think there’s more to it than that. First of all, there’s the way that we judge our past, younger, less experienced selves–we deem ourselves fools for being psyched about things like learning to tie our own shoes.

Pam: Oh, excellent point.

Brenna: Then there’s the reversal–“the shapes, though, were similar.” Maybe we weren’t so foolish after all. It almost feels like there’s a teensy tinsy implied critique here of the pearls. Real gems are virtually indistinguishable from good copies. What are we really valuing? And then “our new hands.” It’s as if not only have we changed–we’ve actually become new. We are new people now. And then “gem-tactics.” I stinkin’ love that. It’s like a whole huge social commentary in one made-up, Emilyfied compound word. Women’s self-adorning=tactics.

Pam: I like the differences between the paste and the pearls. You can do so many things with paste–you can make art, fix things. Pearls can pretty much just be admired. The average person wouldn’t have a multitude of uses for them. But we value them more.

Brenna: And “gem-tactics” sounds like “gymnastics”–the ways in which we contort ourselves to fit into our roles as adult women. Oooh, good point! Paste is useful and more fun.

Pam: I think you have this poem’s number.

Brenna: I love your point about paste. Paste has a potential that pearls do not. They are done, no longer becoming.

Pam: What does “practising sands” mean, though?

Brenna: Ooooh, Pam!! Pearls are instigated by sand!

Pam: Gasp

Brenna: Sand is what makes pearls!!! TA-DAAAAA!!!

Pam: We are the pearls!!!

Brenna: We are! AND the sand! We are Every Woman. It’s all in us.

Pam: I love this!!!

Brenna: We carry within our adult selves the grains of our child selves. They may irritate, but they have made us what we are. DANG, Emily.

Pam: Incredibly profound. I really love this one!

Brenna: It’s a great one!

Pam: And from the outset, I thought, I have no clue what this means. I can’t figure this out. And in five minutes, you opened my eyes and now we get it. And we are pearls.

Brenna: We are SO pearls.

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