The first typescript

[Page 39]

Ashbery: “The Skaters,” first typescript, page 39

I thought I saw you on the Recamier couch.
Maybe this was just another one of my visions.

Once when coffee and tea were offered
Or the Veranda of the wild {root} flower{-root} palacedele
You appeared wearing mended stockings which did not match.
The other guests have long since forgotten the disgrace, but I have not forgotten.
Nor can I believe your embarrassment has been so short lived.dele
Each of us offered flowers to the other. Mine was geraniums
And water lilies in a rusted metal can.
Yours was just a bunch of old dandelions.dele

That was a good joke you played on the other guests.
A joke of silence.

The last tadpoles have turned into frogs.dele
The spring, though mild, is incredibly wet
The roof leaks onto this page the desk, blurring the handwriting.dele
If only there was enough money to repair the roof!
Suddenly, as fish become a ducks, leave the side of a streamdele
The rain stops, and the wind starts beating among the tiles

I have spent the afternoon blowing soap bubbles
And am no longer fit for the company of my fellow humans.

Seventeen years in the capital of Foo-Yung province
A-hii-y! A-hii-y!dele
Surely woman isXX was made for somethingdele
Besides almost continual fornication, interrupted by menstrual cramps.

The birch-pods come clattering down on the moss-grown marble pavement.
And a curl of smoke stands above the triangular wooden roof.

Engineer Y said, "The clouds hang in the heavens
Like hungry hawks above a cornfield." It is time
To go inside now,
To slam the back door, and curl up with the misery of a good book.

How many scrolls in your library
How many illustrious fronds decking the branches of your family tree!

True, but ancestors aren't everything.
Even good breeding isn't everything.
A lot depends on the will to good behavior,
And quiet, natural manners.

The "second position"
Comes in the seventeenth year,
   Watching the meaningless girations of flies above a sill.