A Brief Treatise

Listen to the author read this poem:


I was alone in a room with a radio, a dog, and a glass of water.
That’s how it was. There was a chair, a bed, the usual hotel furnishings.
My connecting flight had been canceled and it was toward midnight.
The hotel was in a rundown part of the city. Then it was—
As we say in the vernacular—then it was I had to take the dog out.
My guide dog wearing her leather harness. Me? Wearing
Track shoes and a rumpled business suit. Out we went,
First into a hallway that smelled of soap flakes;
Then up to street level, a strange arrangement
Hard to explain, then down a corridor
Filled with plastic ferns
Until we reached a parking lot
The only place to take the dog, or so I’d been told
And there we were
Standing in the nowhere of blindness—
That beautiful nothing with its hope and autonomy and its private song
Shared between man and animal, the oldest song on earth. 

Professor Stephen Kuusisto, who has been blind since birth, is the author of Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and the acclaimed memoir Planet of the Blind, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He has also published Only Bread, Only Light, a collection of poems from Copper Canyon Press.

Recognized by the New York Times as “a powerful writer with a musical ear for language and a gift for emotional candor,” Steve has made numerous appearances on programs including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dateline NBC, National Public Radio and the BBC.

A graduate of the “Writer’s Workshop” at the University of Iowa, and a Fulbright Scholar, Steve holds the position of director of the Renée Crown University Honors Program at Syracuse University. He speaks widely on diversity, disability, education, and public policy. His essays and poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and literary magazines including Harper’s’ The New York Times Magazine; Poetry; andPartisan Review.He is currently working on a collection of prose poems for Copper Canyon Press entitled Mornings With Borges as well as a collection of political poems about disability.