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… not the people who come here searching for porn. Yep, I’m a true feminist blogger, I have porn searchers who have found themselves lost in the forest of teh Intertrons.

Well, Emily Dickinson aficionados, you want to know what “zero at the bone” means. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. When I first heard the phrase, a large question mark appeared above my head. It sounded fantastic and meaningful and all, but it was a little obscure. I couldn’t find much information on it at first, either.

As it says on my about page, the blog title comes from an Emily Dickinson poem about a meeting with a snake. It’s known as “The Snake,” “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” and “Zero at the Bone”. (Emily Dickinson rarely named her poems herself.) In context:

But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.

I asked an English teacher and she sent a piece of paper around her department, on which they wrote their contributions. (It was rather nice.) The consensus, from memory, was that the phrase referred to being bare, having nothing – “zero” – protecting oneself from the snake’s attack. Apparently, so say these teachers, it’s a more Americanised (Americanized?) usage of the word ‘zero’. I’ve also heard that it’s a reference to intense fear or perhaps death. Maybe it’s literally a feeling of dropping temperature as a fearful response. There are some, ahem, interesting thoughts over here.

After reading many takes on the matter, I decided what it meant to me. To have zero at the bone is to have a clear knowledge of the vulnerable self.

I hope you find that of assistance, friends. Now, go and read poetry!