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  • Valley Glosa
  • Shaune Bornholdt

. . . the theory of description matters most.It is the theory of the word for those

For whom the word is the making of the world,The buzzing world and lisping firmament.

—Wallace Stevens, “Description Without Place”

Come now, to this dry creek-bed where the shalelay layered, sparkling, oozing—wet slick slabs,thick, big enough to make a poor man’s flagstone,the “terrace” that they bragged about, those stonesthat slipped in rain, and rocked when stepped on, cracksrevealing insect trails. Now, conjure ghosts:Parents hauling those rocks uphill, their handssetting each down just so in patterned pride.Can words embody? How abstract, that boast!—“The theory of description matters most.”

It’s concrete change that’s sapped this soil. No fish,no salamanders. Worms encased in clayreact to touch; spring freshets might bring life,but up the road—macadam now—the barnwill go for boards. The silo sags, doors gape,and birds fly out and in. Can one supposetheir nests will last the season? In the meadow:roads, driveways, heaps of lumber, basements dug.Description tries to clothe one form it knowsit is the theory of, the word for those

who dream an attic windowsill, cupped chin,light slanting on that terrace far below,new-made; the smells of supper, and the bella call to grace. Nostalgia of long walks,child-hand on mother’s skirt, and each thing namedgrows real—the fiddlehead ferns that bowed and curledgrow green in the green woods, the bluets blue,and fat bees creep and dip in yellow clover,gifts to a child for whom a world unfurled,for whom the word is the making of the world. [End Page 114]

Long before that time, here in my valley—great Lehigh, fecund, quiet in huge night—the Poet’s candle that conversed the starsburned: flame, then image. But the wind blew twice.New children, from your tract homes rising here,will you come out before all light is spent,speak wizened stars into new infancy,and summon reddening fruit to radiance?Stanza my stone. Describe into intentthe buzzing world and lisping firmament. [End Page 115]

Shaune Bornholdt
New York, New York


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pp. 114-115
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