Has anyone been missing Billy Collins? Time was when
I delighted in his wonderfully “ordinary” voice, that wry touch
to the last lines. I pulled out his book, Ballistics, this morning,
and laughed at the idea of our chief justices, learning how
to row together.
“Brightly colored Boats Upturned
on the Banks of the Charles”
“What is there to say about them,
that has not been said in the title?
I saw them near dawn from a glassy room
on the other side of the river,
which flowed from some hidden spring
to the sea; but that is getting away from
the brightly colored boats upturned
on the banks of the Charles,
the sleek racing sculls of a college crew team.
The were beautiful in the clear early light —
red, yellow, blue and green —
is all I wanted to say about them,
although for the rest of the day
I pictured a lighter version of myself
calling time through a little megaphone,
first to the months of the year,
then to the twelve apostles, all grimacing
as they leaned and pulled on the long wooden oars.”
……………..BILLY COLLINS, from ‘Ballistics’.
Don’t ask me why, I can only say the chief justices
seemed a more likely team than the apostles. At least,
they are available post-op in the newspapers.
So, I can run this poem through again, and get some
perspective on what I might see as ludicrous. or even
with love …