Well, it’s 1AM — and the events of yesterday and today’s subsequent drive to Missoula have had an effect. I’ve tried lying in bed and reading — but that’s not working. Now: Counting sheep? Counting backwards from a thousand? Reading Wallace Stevens?

This might prove most effective — a tired brain is no match for Wallace Stevens. Or so I thought. And then I stumbled on this poem, written by Stevens, obviously in insomnia. And thinking about it kept me up even longer.


The Reader

All night I sat reading a book,
Sat reading as if in a book
Of sombre pages.

It was autumn and falling stars
Covered the shriveled forms
Crouched in the moonlight.

No lamp was burning as I read,
A voice was mumbling, “Everything
Falls back to coldness,

Even the musky muscadines,
The melons, the vermilion pears
Of the leafless garden.”

The sombre pages bore no print
Except the trace of burning stars
In the frosty heaven.


A muscadine — I now know — is a grape vine. Which makes sense in the poem.

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