The first typescript

[Page 44]

Ashbery: “The Skaters,” first typescript, page 44


The wind thrashes the maple seed-pods,
The whole brilliant mass comes spattering down.

This is my fourteenth year as governor of C province.
I was little more than a lad when I first came here.
Now I am old but scarcely any wiser.
So little are white hairs and a wrinkled forehead a sign of wisdom!

To slowly raise oneself
Hand over hand, lifting one's entire weight.;dele
To forget there was a possibility
Of some more politic movement. That freedom, courage
And pleasant company could exist.
That has always been behind you.

An earlier litigation: wind hard in the tops
Of the baggy eucalyptus.

Today I wrote, "The spring is late this year."dele
In the early mornings there is hoar-frost on the water meadows.dele
And ice papers over the frozen mud ruts on the highway."dele
If you go out to the western gate, will anybody be likely to meet you?

The day was gloves.

How far from the usual statement
About time, ice--the weather itself had gone.

I mean this*: through the yearsdele
You have approached and inventory.dele
And it is now that tomorrow
Is going to be the climax of your casual
Statement about yourself, begun
So long ago in humility and false quietude.

The sands are frantic
In the hourglass. But there is time
To change, to utterly destroy
That too-familiar image
Lurking in the glass
Each morning, at the edge of the mirror.
The train is still in the stationdele
You only dreamed it was in motion.