The second typescript

[Page 10]

Ashbery: “The Skaters,” second typescript, page 10


It is! Much bigger and faster than anyone told you.
A bewhiskered student in an old baggy overcoat is waiting to take it.
"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 no one 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 buXX stubs. Nobody minds. And rain on the bristly wool of your topcoat.dele
I realize 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,
Bearing me once again in quest of the unknown. These sails are life itself to me.

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 laughter, sex and fun.
The ticket seller is blowing his little horn--hurry before the window slams down.
The train we are getting onto is a boat train, and the boats are really boats this time.dele

But I heard the heavens say--Is it right? This continual changing back and forth?
Laughter and tears and so on? Mightn't just plain sadness be sufficient for him?
No! I'll not accept that any more, you bewhiskered old caverns of blue!
This is just right for me. I am cosily ensconced in the balcony of my face

Looking out over the whole darn countryside, a beacon of satisfaction
I am. I'll not trade places with a king. Here I am then, continuing but ever beginning
My perennial voyage, into new memories, new hope and flowers
The way the coasts glide past you. I shall never forget this moment

Because it consists of purest ecstasy. I am happier now than I ever dared believe
Anyone could be. And we finger down the dog-eared coasts...
It is all passing! It is past! No, I am here,
Bellow the coasts, and even the heavens roar their assent