by F. D. Reeve
When I was young the earth was a hard blue globe
with multi-colored countries and British pinks
standing by a desk as tall as I
and spun round by my grandfather’s wooden fingers.
Slowly working pause and counterpause
he crossed the deserts, jungles and three oceans;
the ball became a five by fifteen spread—
a flat idea projected on a wall.
One day Odysseus crossed to Ithaka;
then Roland on his mountain blew his horn;
Dido rose from the ashes of her love;
Cauchon lit the match that burned up Joan.
Now my long-lived hours recombine the past.
All time is fiction; in the seas men drown.
How can I prove my grandfather existed,
or there’s a library where this world will last?
F. D. Reeve, poet and novelist, most recently published The Moon and Other Failures (1999, Michigan State University Press). This April his chamber oratorio The Urban Stampede, with music by Andrew Gant, will have its world premiere at London’s Barbican; next year it will be released in book form. (2000)