Tuesday, March 20, 2007

from : Girls on the Run


The thread ended up on the floor,
where all threads go.
It became a permanent thing, like silver:
Every time you polish it, a little goes away.
Then the ducks arrived, it was raining.
Such a lot of going around and doing!
Sometimes they were in sordid sexual situations;
at others, a smidgen of fun would intrude on our day
which is there to be intruded on, anyway.
Its value, to us, is incommensurate
with, let's say, the concept of duration, which kills,
as surely as a serpent hiding behind a stump.
Our phrase books began to feel useless‹for once
you have learned a language, what is there to do but forget it?
Each illustration changes us.

These were cloistered. They stayed
with us that winter, then went on a little while.
Soon they were back. It was partially time to go out in the opening.
Some enjoyed it.
Then, if they were true,
the blue rabbit heaped bones upon them. There was no going back,
now, though, some did go back. Those who did
didn't get very far. The others came out a little ahead,
I think. . . I don't know.

Look, this is what I am, what I was made of.
Am I therefore to usurp the rose
that blows on time's pediment, wrapping all wisps in a kind of bundle
of awe? But the sundial smiled in the rain, the stile
beckoned, the sign said it was three miles. In the lane the parson's
ambulance pestered gold pigtails, who were in for a shock
of course when the fox returned smiling, fanning his great tail in the corset
of the lighthouses the sausages were so concerned about.
Did the game of stealing please many? Here, on the other side, they were in sync,
their bowls of muesli crooning to the sidelong bats of evening, and then they were let out
to smoke a cigarette in the meadow. No one knew how many
tried to escape, or how many were successful. You had to read it
in the evening's news, and by then sea-cows were weary.
They taxed themselves out of existence. Our raft capsized
and they opined the day was bright with promise, though shut off
from what really happened. It was time for golf.

This was that day's learning.

Finally when Angela could retrieve her moorings they sent the tide out,
but it came back next day, increasingly bizarre.
Bunny and Philip weren't sure they wanted to see more. "But you must,"
Angela urged, breathing a little faster. Then they all wanted to know why it goes on
all the time, and the preacher answered it was due to bats. In the silos. Oh,
I thought you wanted to know, Philip said. We do, but other than you there are two
pails formally, and no one can figure out what is inside. Indeed? Well I'll
take the plunge Philip volunteered. He was always a brave little kid.
Now it was this side of sunset again. Nobody knew which was in error: the stove, or its waistband.
After which the elm buds chanced a summer intrusion
and all the nifty year was almost gone. Well isn't that a catastrophe, Aunt Clara gurgled,
or are some of you please going to take it outside? Aw, but it's raining, someone grumbled,
Why can't we stay inside and have school?
Yes but the quitter must go far out into the bogs. It's time for the badgers to nest
and who is that coming over the hill this time? It's
Spider, Angela suggested.

But as for leaving you all without a tale to tell, I would be daft,
nay derelict, not to insist on where the others have gone. Isn't there a place
to stop, that we'll all know about when we come to it?
Yes there is, she said, we'll just all have to back down
into the gloom, and bait our hooks with peanut butter
which is what they did
and so they left home that day.

-- John Ashbery


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