Unplugging the entire house:
lamps, refrigerator, hi-fi,
air conditioner, computer,
toaster, coffee maker, nightlight,
radio, TV, hair dryer,
aquarium, answering machine.
Powerless at last, I open
Emerson’s essays and indulge
in the naked word the spirit
wields to contact spirit, a sound
that crosses a vacuum. The day
brightens, freshly minted and brave
enough to consider a future
without an electric bill. A haze
of autumn pastel fogs the hills.
Seated at my picnic table
I read “Self-Reliance,” “The Poet,”
“Circles,” “The Oversoul,” and note
how loosely the diction lopes
across the yard, like a puppy
getting used to its limber gait.
The house will remain unplugged
until I’ve reformed myself
enough to be trusted with power
generated by nuclear plants
and hydroelectric constructions
and coal-burning dynamos served
by a web of railroad complex
as neurons. Emerson knew better,
and didn’t read by electric light
or listen to recorded music,
or blow-dry his dignified haircut,
or cool with air conditioning.
But still blinded to the spirit
by decades of high wattage,
I close the heavy book for good.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His most recent collection of poetry is Waiting for the Angel (2009). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, Natural Bridge.