Alice In Flatland
© 1992 by Jim Andrews
Chapter 1: The Tree's Boundaries
She looks around left and right--
Alice now in Flatland is.
to find herself without notice
"That lovely demented man
told me of this world one day
for me to reach its end despite
I shrink by half each step I take
the end of this strange world. Well let's
Nothing happened nothing changed--
"What's this?" she gasped, "I'm still the
"But this is not that world," she cried,
and all the world looks like a line
But then she thought (by now a pro
"It's not just me that shrinks or grows
And in a way that I can't see
Why should I think I shrink or grow?
It doesn't matter to me, then,
shrink or grow, I cannot see it.
So off she went, Flatland to see
"I came here from a world beyond.
"Height!" the Tree said with a frown,
"Yes," she said, "how could you know when
"I read a bit and do some thinking.
I read before that time grows old,
I read that you were coming here.
"So are you wise, Tree?" Alice asked him.
"That's not for me to say," said he
He smiled. "But what I know I'll share
He was lonely you could tell
Alice paused then asked him, "Tell me
"Here we have just 'length' and 'width'.
But in your world there's 'up' and 'down'
Still, it may be that you too
when you move and in such a way
Your universe may be this way.
Alice had had for some time
"There's a question you seem to hide:
"Look," he said, "I'm sick of all this rhyme.
It gives me willies. It makes it look
I reserve the right not to rhyme.
I have my pride. I'm not a shnook.
Alice gasped. Hadn't heard the style.
on some 386 some place with
"Shrink or grow I cannot see it.
she thought. Then, with no self-pity
"I may be bound in how I speak.
All the same, there is me.
"Right on, Alice!" said the Tree, "We
Or so it seems. We are free.
I am bound here like a Tree.
I heard a song the other day
The chains were used as kinds of drums.
When they'd finished they were led
and sang supremely, it's reported,
better than the first, it seems,
When they're freed, will they still sing
untrue to them and will they do
Let's hope that they can chuck the chains
and that they sing with full delight
But let's get back to what you asked.
I don't really mean to hide
If we say the All has no shape
But wait! We have our cake and eat it too:
if you make an All you make
then you gobble up its shape
I didn't see you at it but, dear Alice,
Alice's lips were smooth and sweet,
She was so pleased the sweets to taste
and said, "But Tree, you make fun of me!
All the same, I think it is you
"What cake? What ices?" He grinned. "So you
So what to do? Say it's boundless?
I conclude we hide or not
in our denying if we hide it.
There's always another side that we don't see.
Let me, Alice, extemporize.
but I doubt it.
All the same, I wonder how the ideal
as though we have it in us
to catch it all.
Don't get me wrong--
sung out of denial of the price we pay
There is winning. There is losing.
I thought my love was a magician.
I thought that I had lost the world.
But in the burls grew five red eyes
I sometimes think she gave me sight.
You win/you lose--they're in disguise.
Choice excludes. What to do? Choose your
we wake and wake before we sleep.
I count before I sleep, I sleep
Time for the sheep to grow some teeth
Anyway, I mean to recall
And anyone who says so
Gawd, I talk too much.
"Isn't he the egg who said
"Not quite. Amusing all the same.
"Oh yes. And yours. You're famous.
"My books? Why thank you, I think," she said.
"The Riddler wrote of you in Wonderland.
By now Alice knew she led
a sort of star who never saw
but knew it happened, all the same,
"Yes. I have had some hint of this.
All the same, you know, I feel free.
I doubt the writer knows what's next.
"You mean to say you don't recall
"Not the book. I know who wrote it.
as I recall my travels there.
I don't really mean to moan
my little house on the west coast
This happens every now and then--
So far so good. I'm not dead.
All in all, yes, it could be worse.
The Tree began a bit to shake,
She didn't notice right away.
"'Air' has no shape. It has a name
in some sense but it seems it's free
Names do not force the things to take
"Alice! You didn't talk like this
I guess you've grown. My dear, I'm stunned!
"Yes, well, what did you expect? That
"Pardon me, I'm such a fan
"Thanks," said Alice and saw some tears
"Don't cry, poor Tree,"
I'm much the same
"That's what they all say!" wept the Tree.
"Really, Tree, sometimes I think you weep and rhyme
No longer free--it sounds like you
"T.V.? T.V.?" screamed the Tree,
"Why Tree, I'm surprised. I thought you read a lot.
The Ninja Turtles, Starsky and Hutch,
"AH! AH! STOP IT! STOP IT! SPARE ME
Alice was aghast she'd hurt the Tree
"I'm sorry. Sorry Tree!
Then Alice too began to cry
were weeping for the time between,
"Sometimes we think we're growing bold
It's cruel of me to egg you on
But you must let me be myself.
The little girl's alive and fine
But Time's a river nothing stanches.
I wouldn't rather be the girl.
You're not a yuppie, are you, Alice?
"My, but you're suspicious.
I'm a refugee from Wonderland!
Have you heard of McDonalds
"No I haven't," said the Tree,
"Yes," said Alice smiling thinly,
I wonder what the price will be
It lacks vision. It's just for sales.
They sell a dream that's black and white.
But really, fast food joints are not
know imagination's bigger shake
I'm from a mindscape eating buns
I try to do the best I can
I'm better off than most, I see,
My ambition's not for a car.
What is Wonderland to me?
Not escape from what is real
You question me harshly, Tree,
I surely do not know the plan
I'm sorry I called you nasty names.
But I see you need a hide that's thick
Who all is eating whom and how
and thank you for the All again
the All in All, the All is one
I think of trees in the world you're from
my roots are in the past and grow
But you'll excuse me I must sleep,
and by the way I have a name
(I add a letter with each year
I'm flattered, though, you'd call me 'Tree',
"Oh Tree! Can I ask you
The Tree was drowsing, falling off
"What's the book you said you read
"I should let you guess at that
Alice didn't need much time
"It's Alice in Flatland, isn't it,"
"Yes," he said. "Predictable.
I read it such a long time ago
And soon was snoring fitfully
"Sweet dreams, sweet Tree," Alice crooned,
I hope you don't live in the past
What if the past is yet to come
Who is she
Mother? Wife? Lover? Friend?
What kind of wheel is that? And yet,
Still, we established
We do not know, do we, Tree?
And perhaps you are not so different from me.
And for all your age
"Thank you," said Alice to the Tree, bowed
and wandered off more of it to see.