Thirteen ways of encountering a blackbird

Wallace Stevens walk I


At The Hartford in Hartford
I inquire if one can park on campus
For the Wallace Stevens walk.
The gate guard directs me to
The visitors’ lot.


On foot I set out
Beneath the burning sun,
Pausing at the first station
Of the eye of the blackbird
To consult the map.


The second station is guarded
By a black wrought-iron fence,
The granite marker bearing
Wallace’s words
A prisoner of the Asylum.


Between verse two and three
I turn to consider
The swaying hips
Of a golden-shod finely braided woman
Sauntering along the sidewalk.


Insignia orange vested workers
Weed-wack the Gengras Center fence.
One wipes his weeping brow
And tips a broadbilled cap.


At Woodland I touch the steel button
And wait for the small white man
To make his appearance.
Three laughing nurses
Navigate the corner.


Suddenly, the demeanor of the neighborhood changes.
Spacious Georgian mansions populate the landscape.
In submission Asylum twists and rolls over
On its belly.


At Scarborough the chiseled words
Are cast in shadow —
The shadow of blackbirds.


Black-bearded men,
ID badges dangling from their belts,
Saunter by with vacant stares.


Three stout women
Step lively to the edge of Woodside,
Abruptly turn,
and retrace their circular path.


At Terry and Westerly Terrace
Stevens’ stone words lie mute,
Caressed by black-eyed Susans.


A small grey poodle squats
On the grassy bank beneath young trees.
His widebrimmed owner
Waves with a smile.


Number 118:
A white house with black shutters.
Stevens’ snow-covered mountain;
The forlorn feather of a blackbird
Cast aside on the cracked sidewalk.


Wallace Stevens walk XIV