The first typescript

[Page 14]

Ashbery: “The Skaters,” first typescript, page 14

II-C dele

Old heavens, you used to tweak us above us
Standing like rain whenever a salvo... Old heavens
You lying there above the old, but not ruined, fort,
Can you hear, there, what I am saying?

For it is you I am parodying
Your invisible denials. And the almost correct impressions
Corroborated by newsprint, which is so fine.
I call to you there, but I do not think that you will answer me.

For I am condemned to drum my fingers
On the closed lid of this piano, this tedious planet, earth
As it winks to you through the aspiring, growing distances
A last spark before the night.

There was much to be said in favor of storms
But you seem to have abandoned them in favor of endless light.
I cannot say that I think the change much of an improvement.
There is something half-fearful in these summer nights that go on forever...

We are nearing the Moorish coast, I think, in a bateaudele
I wonder if I will have any friends there
Whether the future will be kinder to me than the past, for example,
And am all set to be put out, finding it is notXXXXXX to be not.dele

Still, I am prepared for this voyage, and for anything else you may care to mention
Not that I am not afraid, but there is very little time left
You have probably made travel arrangements, and know the feeling.
Suddenly, one morning, the little train arrives in the station, but oh, so big,

It is! Much bigger and much faster than anyone told you.
A bewhiskered student in an old baggy over coat much too big for him is waiting to take it.dele
"Why do you want to go there" they all say. It is better in the other direction
And so it is. There people are free, at any rate. But where you are going nobody is.

Still there are parks and libraries to be visited "la Bibliotheque Municipale"
Hotel reservations and all that rot. Old American films dubbed into the foreign language
Coffee and whiskey and cigar stubs butts. Nobody minds. And rain on the bristly wool of your topcoat.dele
I realize now that I never knew why I wanted to come.

Yet I shall never return to the past, that attic.
Its sailboats are perhaps more beautiful than these, these I am leaning against,
Spangled with diamonds and orange and purple stains             life
Bearing me once again in quest of the unknown. These sails are like itself to me.dele

I heard a girl say this once, and cried, and brought her fresh fruit and fishes,
Olives and golden baked loaves. She dried her tears and thanked me.
Now we are both setting sail into the purplish evening.
I love it! This cruise can never last long enough for me.

But once more, office desks, radiators--No! That is behind me.
No more dullness, only movies and love and XX laughter, sex and fun.dele
The ticket seller is blowing isXX his little horn--hurry before the window slams downdele
The train we are getting onto is a boat train, and the boats are really boats this time.