The second typescript

[Page 11]

Ashbery: “The Skaters,” second typescript, page 11


As we pick up a lemon colored light horizontally
Projected into the night, the night that heaven
Was kind enough to send, and I launch into the happiest dreams,
Happier once again, because tomorrow is already here.

Yet certain kernels remain. Clouds that drift past sheds--
Read it in the official bulletin. We shan't be putting out today.
The old stove smoked worse than ever because rain was coming down its chimney.
Only the bleary eye of fog accosted one through the mended pane.

Outside, the swamp water lapped the broken wood step.
Nearby aA rowboat was moored in the alligator-infested swamp.dele
Somewhere, from deep in the interior of the jungle, a groan was heard.
Could it be...? Anyway, a rainy day--wet weather.

The whole voyage will have to be cancelled.
It would be impossible to make different connections.
Anyway the hotels are all full at this season. The junks packed with refugees
Returning from the islands. Sea-bream and flounder abound in the muddied waters...

They in fact represent the backbone of the island economy.
That, and cigar rolling. Please leave your papers at the desk as you pass out,
You know. "The Wedding March." Ah yes, that's the way. The couple descend
The steps of the little old church. Ribbons are flung, ribbons of cloud

And the sun seems to be coming out. But there have been so many false alarms...
No, it's happened! The storm is over. Again the weather is fine and clear.
And the voyage? It's on! Listen everybody, the ship is starting,
I can hear its whistle's roar! We have just time enough to make it to the dock!

And away they pour, in the sulfurous sunlight,
To the aqua and silver waters where stands the glistening white ship
And into the great vessel they pour, flood, a motley and happy crowddele
Chanting and pouring down hymns on the surface of the ocean...

Pulling, tugging us along with them, by means of streamers,
Golden and silver confetti. Smiling, we laugh and sing with the revelers
But are not quite certain that we want to go--the dock is so sunny and warm.
That majestic ship will pull up anchor who knows where?

And full of laughter and tears, we sidle once again with the other passengers.
The ground is heaving under foot. Is it the ship? It could be the dock...
And with a great whoosh all the sails go up... Hideous black smoke belches forth from the funnels
Smudging the gold carnival costumes with the gaiety of its jet-black soot