Stephen Kuusisto, Letters to Borges

Here come the dancers, half Greek half sky

Fragrance of goat’s milk and iron—

All day, blind, alone, talking to myself

(For that’s how it was

Lonely kid telling stories to no one

In a bomb shelter, 1960

Already in love with Hercules

Who must have had friends.)


I lay on cement whispering—

How storying unfolded

Talking in the dark

Breathing odors of Army blankets.

Who loves you, who doesn’t

Where’s a lucky window

How high the sun, my lips moving.


Even now I talk to myself.

My wife sees me, says,

“what are you saying?”

I shrug. How can I tell her?

I recite fragments as some boys skip pebbles.

It might be someone else’s words

Maybe Ezra Pound:

“And the days are not full enough

And the nights are not full enough

And life slips by like a field mouse

Not shaking the grass…”

Then again it’s just me: “Trace

The veins of a barberry leaf

That’s Braille enough…”

In sidelong darkness of broken manners

When the day is insufficient

Minutes not feeding me

Up river go the words the outcast words.

Oh anything will do.


Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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