The first typescript

[Page 24]

Ashbery: “The Skaters,” first typescript, page 24


     Burning, sealing its way into my consciousness.
     Smooth out the sad sand flowers, pick up where you left offdele
     But leave me immersed in dreams of sexual imagery:
     Now that the homecoming geese unfurl in waves on the west wind
     And cock covers hen, the farmhouse dog slavers over his bitch, and horse and mare go screwing through the meadow!
     A pure scream of things arises from these various sights and smells
     As steam arises from a wet shingle, and I am happy once again
     Walking among these phenomena that seem familiar to me from my earliest childhood.

We put everything in order.dele
A museum of thought was the result.dele

     The page ended just at the burnt edge,dele
     The reader's puckered lips. He is looking for "milk"dele
     In the directory, but this volume ends with the "MI"'s.dele
     Another time will do as well, at school last yeardele
     Or elsewhere, in praise of bushes or wandering.dele

And someone I have never seendele
Is thinking of me right now.dele

   Perhaps she, in her waydele
   By the day's "last rays", reads my letter.dele
   I promised and never sent.dele
   On flat landscapes the projections occur.dele

And one wishes to escape civilization.dele
A world of alien diseases is best,dele
Tyrant fruits, and big-voiced birdsdele
Bespeaking the awe of peace in orange grovesdele
By seaweed fires.dele

   At home the bespectacleddele
   Reader of newsprint shuns the baroque kiosk.dele
   Dirt darkness and destruction abounddele
   In the so-called modern "paradise"--he thinksdele
   As the trolley draws closer--a sheaf of newsprintdele
   Perpendicular to the thorax--is the one you draw close todele
   And say goodbye to, and wait for and return todele
   And hunger for inspiration from, in leafy enchantmentdele
   Of urban dusk. But somehow the mirth of everything rolls us alongdele
   Laughing and tired, and commenting on our journeydele
   Before it happens, and leaves us at the end.dele