Issue 126, Spring 1993
Old World Light
Right on schedule, one century behind
The little bird on William Wordsworth’s cuckoo clock
Emerged from Time Itself, a home, to cuckoo.
Even at midnight
You could clearly hear noon. And yet not even
In sunny Grasmere did any light come free,
Each homely chunk of coal was a commodity
Time Itself paid for;
Sufficient unto the night were the miners below.
Together underground William and Dorothy go —
They who paid a Light Tax on their ninth window.
No place like home, though.
The benches fly backwards, the newspaper readers,
As if they’d always been left behind so far
And what they were reading no one remembers,
Wheezing old men pulled
Straight into Nothingness which is not yet filled—
New islands of light in the Tube pounding past us,
People on platforms, years of practice, stare where
Our train is no more
So why do we care when the door accordions open
To some total stranger’s paradise without us?
The angels of our century are hideous,
Brushing against us—