Stephen Robertson

Slanting Lines


I could not see what he saw; but I saw him see

across the criss-cross checks and grids and patterned lattices of life

through glasses, darkly.

—A fragment, formulated forty years ago

and filed in the middens of my mind.

And in my mind it conjures up a vision

of the image that inspired it: a scattering

of people in a city street, shop-window-browsing.

A group, gathered around and gazing into

one window; but one young man half-turned

across the rest, looking with unfocussed eyes

into the distance down the street.  I could not see

what he saw…

Inspired?  Why should such a mundane scene

so briefly glimpsed, make my muse suggest

just three alliterative lines—at best

a semi-stanza—and then to cease?  It seems

perverse—the more because the fellow

was not wearing glasses.