No. 10 - 11


Frederick Smock  

Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford

For a while, it was good enough to view
the heavens from atop the third floor - that 
was close enough - through large palladian
windows looking both north and south, as
to also watch a girl riding by on a bicycle on
Woodstock Road, a satchel across her back,
her red scarf trailing along behind her. From
the manicured grass of the courtyard below,
a fellow could shout up to the astronomer
and ask if the young man is coming down to
the dining hall before it closes for the night.
And, until the evening's light dims altogether,
the astronomer could train his telescope on
the flower garden in the courtyard-surround - 
the delicate pinks and yellows of the roses,
tough thistles, the acanthus and the eucalyptus
whose undergrowth is home to red squirrels, 
mollusks, and other more furtive creatures.
And then, when the stars open up for business,
he could swing his scope back to the heavens,
to study the mythology of distant bodies.
His own feet planted on the wide-plank floor
of the observatory, a small room, reachable by 
an old and somewhat wobbly flight of stairs.

Afternoon, Malmö, 1998

                        stringent as fall rain to the tongue
                                                   Laurence Goldstein

The long light of a Scandinavian afternoon
fell across the square, autumn-come-early to 
the northern provinces. In the shadow
of the Grand Hotel, a little retarded boy with 
a shock of blond hair was brushing his teeth
with his fingers, dirt and spit; his parents 
sat nearby, enjoying a bottle of wine, bright-
gold when the husband decanted it into their
glasses. Shadows lengthened and cooled. 
I had taken the sea-train from Denmark,
wanting to spend my afternoon in the gray 
reaches of this old, snowy capital. Was it 
the statue of Kierkegaard in the shade of
an elm behind the library? Was it the canals
turning greasy, dark? I was wanting a few
bleak hours alone, something we northerners
do from time to time. Long grasses on the
sidings. Amber on the beaches. The sun 
a flat krøner in the sky....  And today, 
though I'm sitting at my table in Louisville, 
in an upstairs room, it is Sweden that I see 
outside the windows, the long grasses bending 
in blond sunlight....




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