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SKATEBOARDING WITH LEWIS CARROLL
Comedy of the world, our time’s
commodity by which we try
to be amused. It ends delight
supposedly.
                    Those children went
before the wind, they sailed over
sleek plane of the reservoir,
they flew. Their sails crowded, drew,
and danced; their skateboards made music
for them who were not birds to wheel
as they wheeled, not dancers, nor were
they dazzling yachts, but briefly seemed.
Then wind died, delight died.
It’s time like that to furl your sail,
go home perhaps, step a mirror
through to another side, other-
ly instructed.
                    Be reconciled
to being reconciled, to making
do made over. Drink me, drink me!
bottles plead. Learn to shrink small,
tidy, docile, dry.
                           Along roads
between two main ways orchards are
cutting back lost seasons’ growing.
Clump by clump they fire their wasted
woods, smoke like battlefields’ spoils
towards the creek.
                           Like battlefield
smoke in Roger Fenton’s pictures
of the Crimea, as light, almost
stilled, chilling deceit. This fact
concordant, when its fact was gone
past into likeness. At Ripon
Lewis Carroll saw pictures shown
just days before the war itself
was gone, Fenton’s pictures. Bells rang
throughout, flags flew all over town.
He’d not yet met with Alice; that, a month
more. ‘I mark this day with a white stone.’
Language of delight deceives noone.
We must go undeceived
through/behind our looking glass
wheeling, brief dancers in some air
which plays with us, bemused.
                                             Winds die
like wars away from us. Likeness,
rightness (of gesture, say) catches
at your breath. Drink me, dear, drink me
before I’m tidy, docile, dry.
                                                                       11. 7. 77
Editor's note
Skateboarding with Lewis Carroll : first published in Islands 23 (1978), 69; also in Stories About Wooden Keyboards and Selected Poems; KS note in Stories reads: '"I mark this day with a white stone" is an expression which Carroll uses for what he regards as notable occasions'. Lewis Carroll, pseudonym of Charles Dodgson (1832-98), author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass (1871); Drink me, drink me! : instruction on shrinking potion in Alice; Fenton: Roger Fenton (1819-69), English photographer, best known for photographs of the Crimean War; Ripon: town in Yorkshire
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