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Aperture, 1856

Stephanie Bolster
From:   White Stone: The Alice Poems. Signal Editions/Véhicule Press, April 1998


First the flood of chemicals:
guncotton, ether, silver
nitrate. Then forty-five long seconds
of stillness--and she only three
and quick. Did they meet because

of a raising of eyebrows, curiouser
about each other than about anyone
else in the garden? Her sisters
blurred into foliage;
he smelled of medicine. He was

twenty-four, did not choose her
as his favourite until the Adventures
six years later. But something began
that afternoon, marked in his diary
"with a white stone."

Her blue eyes tight buds.
Her mousy thatch straight across
the forehead. Spring everywhere threatening
to open them both: tense in that unfurling
garden, during the long exposure.


After his first meeting with Alice Liddell on 25 April 1856, Charles Dodgson wrote in his diary, "I mark this day with a white stone." The expression originates in Catullus' "Lapide candidiore diem notare," (Poem 68, line 148) which translates as "to mark with an especially white stone the (lucky) day." The English version was quite commonly used in Victorian times.


Stephanie Bolster's works copyright © to the author.


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