Brian Kiteley

Introduction to Kiteley's Poems


Wallace Stevens in Western Massachusetts

On this side of that River, Elsie and I rowed with vigor, intelligence, and commonness. Beneath the appearances, we were happy, but there was no ferryman, no rush of light and air, no trees that lacked the intelligence of trees. Elsie held the oars while I smoked, curls of abstractions drifting overhead. I cleaned my pipe and observed an ankle in sheer white stocking, the nape of a neck bent to watch the steeple at Northampton pass by. Hadley, this side of Stygia, glistened in the sun. A bark came the other way, against the current, the ferryman in it standing up with a pole at his rear. He said, “Call it an unnamed flowing, space-filled, reflecting the seasons, the folk-lore of each of the senses.” Elsie laughed and replied (perhaps remarking on the way he made it look as if he weren't poling against the river), “Call it a river that flows nowhere, like a sea.” I saw black cataracts ahead, not in the river but in time, trees that lacked the intelligence of trees, and a wife flushing in the sun, briefly, won over by the vigor and curriculum of another ferryman than me. I tell of the propelling force of something other than love on a river.

From The River Gods

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