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Robert Lowell Visited Bath in my Dream

I was visiting the city in my dream

The day was spring like and the sun was warming me as I walked down one of its many hills

As I approached the city centre I found myself surrounded by a number of Italians

They thrust out pens and asked me to sign their books

Why did you write your book in English?

Because that is my first language

My English is poor and I am having difficulty in reading your book

Will you translate the book into Italian?

My Italian is poor

Will it be translated?

I looked at their beautiful faces

I looked at their olive skin and their jet black eyes busy with questions

Yes in time my book will be translated

My publisher is in Milan today

Tomorrow it will be translated

Soon the group began to fade

Slight kisses were exchanged

Ciao Beppe

Ciao Dina

Ciao Bella

Ciao Carlo

Ciao Ciao Ciao

Only one of the group remained

Her name was Katherine

She was standing in front of me

Her book was opened at page forty-eight

Unlike her friends Katherine did not have black hair and black eyes

Her skin was not olive but pale and freckled

Her hair was auburn and was moving gently in the Spring breeze

What happened to the book?

What book?

Glimpses of unfamiliar Japan

Glimpses of unfamiliar Japan by Lafeadio Hearn

Lowell mentions it in his poem Father’s Bedroom

It went to China with him and was left under an open porthole during a storm on the Yangtze River

It warped the olive cover but the pages suffered little damage

Do you know where it is now?

Not a present

Katherine left me and joined her friends

I had lied to her for the book now belonged to me and was on loan to a museum on the Yangtze River

I continued further into the heart of the city

I found a mobile phone shop derelict in an alley

Graffiti had been added to its sorry façade

Corrosive Instruments are teasing (tormenting) the pheasants

It is irresponsible of farmers to celebrate their freedom

As I walked past the shop a young mother stopped me

Do you think it is wrong of me to let Adam read the Aeneid as he is only three?

Has he started speaking?

Yes

Then he is old enough to read the Aeneid

I was seeking an iron bridge which crossed a road

Taking trains away from the city and receiving trains in return

It was no longer there

I am standing where a mighty bridge once stood
it was built by the railway for the common good  

I am standing where a mighty bridge used to be
taking its rails towards the golden sea

Its vacancy is immense and the silence is deafening

A man in rags passes me

He is destitute

He has two dogs on long leads

They are immaculate

Come on Louis
come on Blue
your tragic master
has treats for you

Later I see this man again (without the immaculate dogs)

He is seated on a soft wood bench with two girls who are much younger than him

One has a shock of auburn hair

I mistake her for the Italian

The other is slight and very pale (she looks almost unwell)

The man has been drinking again

My niece came down to look after me
she is family all right as you can see
but do you know she does not care
and is fiery and wild as her ginger hair

She is a spitfire and not very nice  

You are exaggerating Uncle

Now Chloe here is a different person

She is so quiet you would not know she was there

Who are you ringing Chloe?

Mum

Your sister remember

That is enough from you Spitfire

Why are you ringing your mum?

To say that you are drunk again

Tell her Spitfire is not looking after me

All she does is shout 

And swear Uncle I also swear at you 

Do not forget that

Tell mum that I have to lock my door

Spitfire laughs

Chloe laughs

I have had a lot to drink today

Spitfire laughs again

Chloe looks embarrassed

Do you know what I was charged to get into Bath?

£6.90 I asked the driver if that was too much

He told me that the return was cheaper

In my day the return cost more

Now Spitfire here had a special ticket

It would have got me into Bath for free

But did she share it with little me

Hell no

Her best friend means more to her

You are so selfish girl

You are the selfish one Uncle remember that

I am looking after you

You are feeding me that’s all

But you do not care
all you do is shout and swear

Well then starve you old fool

Chloe would have cared for me

Chloe has her hands full with our mother

How can you expect me to look after you when you do not care for yourself?

See the way she treats me Chloe

That’s the way she treats her own flesh and blood   

Spitfire spotted a bus turning around a hidden corner

This is our bus

If you do not come with me then I will leave you here all night

I will give you a bell Clo when he’s asleep

Perhaps we can go out and catch a movie

I am in a café

It is owned by Beverly Farm

She inherited it from her father

Who died slowly from a painful disease

The café is in a prime spot in the city

And holds its own against all the chains

It is two minutes from the railway station

And is always full

The waitresses were dressed in identical brown tee shirts

They were friendly and obliging but were secretly bored

I order a pot of Earl Grey and a small slice of cake

I have not eaten since breakfast and it is nearly three

I plan my final journey of the day

I am walking towards

White Ox Mead

Which is situated in the Mendip Hills

A few miles from Bath

At the end a of muddy lane

There is an art gallery situated in a bare orchard

It is owned by a French woman named Marie Therese

I have been invited to her latest exhibition

She is showing only one work

She never exhibits more than one work

This is what makes her so unique

On wall furthest from the door

I can see her painting

It is large and very prominent

I have no trouble in reading its message

What is the title of your work?

The Fatal Thoughts of Theometers

The panting is red white and blue

And reads

I HATE YOU SO VERY MUCH