Difficult Reading

Napoleon, it’s said, collapsed
into a chaise longue as Moscow
burned. He could only read
a novel to take his mind off
the madness of burning a city
rather than gutting up and giving

it to him, like everybody else.
How could they be so selfish?
Napoleon asked, collapsed in

a funk from the blow, so hard
even to focus on a narrative
when there were such monster
in the world. Arsonists. Cheaters
at the game. Sore losers. Why?
Napoleon kept asking from his

chaise longue, wicker as it
happened. Nothing like cooling
your heels as the last days

of warmth tick by. Nothing like
losing an army to those who
won’t play by the rules, Napoleon
said as the embers spread and
defeat sank in. How could they
go so far out of the story? It

made the reading so difficult
as Moscow burned and the
winter tensed up for lunge.



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