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Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to editor@pnreview.co.uk

This poem is taken from PN Review 87, Volume 19 Number 1, September - October 1992.

Skaters in The Luxembourg Gardens, 1909 Christopher Middleton

Black on white, figures astride a frozen pond,
Long shadows travel, forms unfreeze the distance.
A clock high on the palace facade has stopped.
It is five to one, or else it is eleven.

Suppose there was that year no bombing season,
Though while snow drifts blew into Saint Sulpice
A ghost bicycled through them firing pistol shots:
However it was, here is a lull in a bubble.

Ankles turning as they try to move,
Two of the women wear such ponderous hats.
Shaping her mouth, narrowing her eyes
Another shoots an ecstatic look, at what?

Yes, a mouth can turn lips in like that
When ice absorbs a pond, air blows jawbones cold,
But le dimanche has arrived, the Galeries Lafayette
Set free their great bosomed girls.

Knees flexed and gliding from his corner
A waiter makes the scene, white shirt cuff
Circles the end of the longest arm on earth;
And the women giggle, this could be something else.

At the line of bowler hats behind them, not a glance;
Of the grudge fuming into the hat crowns, not a whiff.
Those bowlers heat old soldier headbones knit
In the semblance of a wound, raw, roughly sutured.

No use trying to tunnel back, they say.
Still you try it, drawn to any secret place.
Still the waiter fills his coat, not yet blown away
In a dugout; old fogeys crack a smile.

Webbed with hairline scratches the wafer of glass
Off which this print slid
Vaguely into the bluebell air of Spring in Texas
Eight decades almost after the event

Is in your lips, image intact;
The scratches hold their accidental ground
And are at home in the picture;
The people smile, humdrum in their hats.

Out of vitrines affordable rose Renoirs
Look at them; air attends Fokine and The Firebird;
Five canvas women rolled under Picasso's bed
Have chosen who shall wear the masks and dance.

Yet unforefelt another ice was catching up on them.
Soon it will split even this mole's backbone.
Where do the long shadows else come from, and the
  light,
The sweep of light brightening that girl's face?

This poem is taken from PN Review 87, Volume 19 Number 1, September - October 1992.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to editor@pnreview.co.uk
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