The second typescript

[Page 23]

Ashbery: “The Skaters,” second typescript, page 23


The train is still sitting in the station.
You only dreamed it was in motion.

There are only a few travelers on Z high road.dele
Behind a shutter, two black eyes are watching them.
They belong to the wife of P, the high-school principal.

It was forty-odd years ago I first saw youdele
Coming over the self-same track.dele

And I still walk out to meet you.dele
The screen door bangs in the wind, one of the hinges is loose.
And together we look back at the house.
It could use a coat of paint
Except that I am too poor to hire a workman.
I have all I can do to keep body and soul together
And soon, even that relatively simple task may prove to be beyond my powers.

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

One seizes these moments as they come along, afraid
To believe too much in the happiness that might result
Or confide too much of one's love and fear, even in

The spring, though mild, is incredibly wet.
I have spent the afternoon blowing soap-bubbles
And am unfit for the company of my fellow humans.dele

And it is with a feeling of delight I realize I am
All alone in the skittish darkness.
The birch-pods come clattering down on the weed-grown marble pavement.
And a curl of smoke stands above the triangular wooden roof.

Seventeen years in the capital of Foo-Yung province!
Surely woman was born for something
Besides continual fornication, retarded only by menstrual cramps.

I had thought of announcing my engagement to you
On the day of the first full moon of X month.