This is the poem, written by my mentor and advisor, that I found in a textbook and later responded to in poem form. It is posted here by permission of the author.
The Contest Between Harmony and Invention
Donald D. Kummings
Wallace Stevens invented a man,
a woman and a moving river,
the latter, of course, may be looked upon as a crow.
Meanwhile I am spending twenty-seven years in dreaming
a breath; a crow
has hidden in it,
as wetness hides in water.
And am observing: the crow–as though the color
of darkness were moving, or folding
up like a wing.
back: a knobby, burlap bag of a woman
boiling rags in a pot,
an old man coughing up honey-colored phlegm,
a cold brown fried crow wing clinging
to an icebox plate,
a river, as though the river is moving.
A crow and the ways of looking at a crow
I say that a crow is a blackbird.
I have invented Wallace Stevens.
What follows is my response to Dr. Kummings’ poem.
After The Waters of Distress*
Donald Kummings invented Wallace Stevens
when he learned of the crow
hidden deep in the wings of a blackbird.
I have seen a glistening crow
flash dull scarlet flecks
as she strolled
through full summer sunlight.
And have known a type of blackbird
who wears the wound of her flight
as a bright crimson slash on her sleeve.
During those first forty years,
my blood moved as slow
as a sluggish stream in a low
almost barren landscape.
Then was quickened to a river
by the clear runoff
from a not too distant mountain.
Now cuts a new course
and waters that land,
while fingering invention.
My blood is one
with the blackbird and crow,
the first a swift slash
the other, sunlit reflection.
Yes, I have read Wallace Stevens,
but have been taught
by Donald Kummings.
*When the Lord has given you the bread of suffering and the waters of distress, he who is your teacher will hide no longer, and you will see your teacher with your own eyes. Whether you turn to right or left, your ears will hear these words behind you, “This is the way, follow it.”
__ Isaiah 30:20-21
The Jerusalem Bible