Robert Farnsworth


                   after Wallace Stevens                       


Read late a winter’s night.  Feel the rooms around,

The rooms within the mind resist the dark.

The fire burns as the novel taught it how.


Summer’s sounding bowl may ripen clouds

In the pages you pay out beside the hearth.

Read late this winter night, and the room around,


The rooms within you will gently fill with proud,

Passing voices.  Even now, in the cedar’s heart

Fire burns as the novel taught it how.


So make each hard scene arrive, as if somehow

Foreknown in the cold, complex kilter of the stars.

Read later into the night, until your room surrounds


A world, where flames unfurl awful flags or drowse

In the furnaces of sinners.  Where desires pour

Or crystallize as music taught them how.


Rise, old moon, above the pallor of snow,

Summoning pillars of smoke toward

The stars. Read the dark you’ve loomed around

       Us all. The fire burns as the novel taught it how.