The lunatic, the lover, and the poet each knew: to float on a raft made of words chosen out of desire, it was necessary to decreate the old world first. The flood repeats itself, and the dove.
So, the weaving and unweaving of the shroud by Penelope’s hand. She is buying time for the impossible return of an impossible life, long lost at sea.
Longing and despair are long partners, dancing together. Only the living are so bound.
Adapted from Helen Vendler’s essay on Wallace Stevens, which borrows a phrase of Stevens’ for its title, “Words Chosen Out of Desire.”