By John Ashbery
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What say we get down to business, tree That you are, knowing nothing like you As somber and reserved as the time for flight approaches. Was that you on the banks of the Tigris And again halfheartedly dipping suckers in the Monongahela? Generations of reciters told the tale From the factory of your worn roots And it made some difference because look how multiplied Everything is. Your own image refracts Again and again greeting you at embarrassed moments in the silent History: how we were all going to be lovers When a climatic change occurred.
But for all you I Have neglected, ignored, Left to stew in your own juices, Not been that friend that is approaching, I ask forgiveness, a song new like rain. Please sing it to me. Alone in the Lumber Business It’s still too early to make concessions. Meanwhile the long night glided on, Intent on some adventure of its own, like a dog Dreaming of a bone. But under the coat of burrs Lay the stones, and they were awake, desire Still shriveled in the bud, but they were there, Soon to be on fire. As the tree beautifies itself Over a period of several months, all things Take up their abode in the questions it asks, And don’t even dream of them, perhaps.
When the princess Comes to see you on some perfectly plausible pretext, you’ll know The underground stream that has never stood still is the surface And the theater for all that is to come. Too bad the revisions Will never be adopted, but how lucky for you, now, The change of face. ” And the locket is still on the chain on a throat. The askers, the doers, fall into silent confusion As it comes time to stand up like a sheet of metal In the blast of sunrise. I will do this, I can do no more. I cannot think on the edge of a platform.
April galleons : poems by John Ashbery