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. (updated 2000)