How Alice Grew Tall by Sir John Tenniel
Chant royal for a beloved author
© 2001 by PJ Nights
Java eyes in my morning cup, there you
are again, prismed embryonic light,
your face in chiaroscuro. Soft-shoe
sun shower telegraphs your words (despite
the distance) in its bright conversation.
On your printed page, a time dilation
stops me between heartbeats, reality
frozen as a subset of fantasy.
If I were to write fan mail, would you say,
“Oh, are you the new person drawn to me,”
as Whitman once did, but file me away
under the lunatic fringe? Just how true
could my take be; these crafted lies invite
longing. My falsehoods, not yours, lie in situ;
their matrix is my experience. Flight
to microcosms of your creation
in prose and poetry, exploration
of your mind irresistible to me.
Here in my pre-noon state of dishabille,
I sail with you as once with Hemingway
or Tolkien. The tidal surf filigree
on your shores, I’m a willing cast-away.
The man beyond - within - I wonder who
you might be, if I can trust my insight.
I gather clues and play arm-chair gumshoe,
hoping that in the end I don't ghostwrite
my own version of you. Adoration
of a well-turned phrase, articulation
of my love are different completely.
Your name is up in lights on the marquee
flashing Morse code. Cinéma vérité,
I wonder if it’s there for me to see
as long as I don’t get carried away.
As a child, without a care or a clue,
I’d have followed Alice down the hole right
behind the white rabbit, bid adieu
to feet firmly grounded with rapt delight.
Questions weren’t ‘what is real’ but flirtation
with ‘anything goes’. No concentration,
a door one-quarter my height was easy,
just raise the bottle with the calorie
count left unread. DRINK ME? Hell, yes I’d say,
but then in those days curiosity
left the smile and faded the cat away.
In this day and age, in this crazy zoo,
cynics make the storytellers take flight,
I chase you far with what I misconstrue.
Childlike, I learn your poems to recite
for the sheer joy of alliteration,
for the tripping tongue and transportation,
the jabberwock and the screaming banshee.
Cinderella can marry the marquis,
Tiny Tim lives to enjoy Christmas Day,
and I know, lying under my palm tree,
that wrinkles in time tesser us away.
This wasted pursuit of reality,
when one can alter tangibility
just by its observation. In his day
Heisenberg knew that. So critics be free
to let the wordsmith transport you away.