On That Moonless Autumn Night
Listening to Wallace Stevens Reading
“The Idea of Order At Key West”
It may be that in all her phrases stirred
The grinding water and the gasping wind;
But it was she and not the sea we heard.
Listening to the poet’s ordered words,
his poem became my reality that night.
But his art was more than just his words.
It was also the sound and the certitude
in his voice that disturbed the silence
and the measured solitude of the dark
on that moonless autumn night.
I closed my eyes, and I was
walking with him on that beach,
and turning back to see
the brilliant lights of boats,
the harbor, and the town,
I heard the clarity in his voice,
above the ever murmuring sea.
When I opened my eyes, I saw
beyond the blind silence of that night
as the maker of his art emblazoned
the dark with a glow brighter than all
those lights dancing on the harbor,
brighter than the sum of stars
swirling above the veritable sea.
When his reading ended, the silence
returned like a rising tide and tried
to become the voice of the dark again.
But the poet’s art altered the ordered world
of that night. It would never be the same.
The certainty of his poetry assured
it was he and not the dark I heard.
Doug Stone lives in Western Oregon. He has written three collections of poetry, The Season of Distress and Clarity (Finishing Line Press), The Moon’s Soul Shimmering on the Water (Amazon.com), and Sitting in Powell’s Watching Burnside Dissolve in Rain (Poetry Box).