On Visiting the Alice Shop in Oxford and Telling the Shopkeeper about Stephanie Bolster’s Poem about Visiting the Alice Shop in Oxford

Summer, 2003 / No. 10

Once upon a time, there was a book

of some renown

in my country. I am here

as well, the shopkeeper

busy telling the story of the sheep and the barley sugar

to two Americans. Forever

I watch items remain still

in small bins, on hangers, sometimes behind glass.

I dream I buy souvenirs.

A vague recollection. The salesman wishes

I’d brought a copy, but I just stutter,

can’t remember the words.

Later, all I can do is pose

behind hedges. Since I drowned

in my Ph.D., even the Bodleian Library cannot excite me.

Once there was a book that led me

to produce a grant proposal out of my ass.

My head explodes

with something so abstract

it fills my head with ideas—

only I don’t exactly know what they are—

Oxford is such a lovely abstraction, I think,

and pour tea

to a cup where a cat smiles up

at me, drowning.

K. I. Press lives in Parkdale. Her latest collection of poetry, Spine, was released in 2004 by Gaspereau. She is also the author of Pale Red Footprints (Pedlar, 2001). Last updated Christmas, 2004.