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Veteran rivals for an exclusive academic chair (recently endowed with $100,000 a year) do scholarly battle with each other in what the Washington Post Book World called a "delectable comedy of bad manners . . . infused with a rare creative exuberance". From the author of the award-winning Changing Places.
all gone by. (The freshness of beauty is the saddened softened light of once proud eyes.) I have very often – . I intended to come back. Tracing, proving. I thought – . I thought you would like – . ‘God bless you, God forgive you!’ you said to me. I am greatly changed. I thought you would like to shake hands. What I had never felt before was the friendly touch. I very often hoped – . I have often thought of you. An imaginary case. I have been considerate and good, I have been bent
years before she’d settled / in the populous colony / of her only child’s / distant family. / It was years ahead / of the perpetual past, / of recurrent ‘would’ – / the comfort of pattern./ Perce (Percy (Percival)) – Pa – / was what? / Violent? / Obstinate? / A little unkind? / Dad doesn’t talk / about anything / but men’s marvels: / he and his father, say, / the last shipwrights / to Kent’s fleet of windmills; / the last cart surgeons, too, / wrapping potatoes / in bandages of broadsheets
desolation. A carpenter is used to making structures for a family, but home-making – it’s not a one-man task. A mother’s death leaves a family I remember, in the old front room, loud late nights. We were talking through the kids, through husband and wife. No one could mistake you and I for sister and brother, wild strawberry blonde, sister. (We might still be close, talking, trying to solve your death.) The children press down on their father – he takes it, he’s a carpenter, he
different – a young thing like your lady! The allotments aren’t an old man’s game these days. You’ll die before she will, don’t worry. Yes… she cried more. She laughed more as well! You give her James Tate’s best wishes. Tell her: Tate sends his best wishes.’ Hakan’s wife has been in hospital, too. ‘(I can’t believe it: young couple, double mortgage. You don’t expect it.) I was. I was fucked. Boys were never taught to cook in Cyprus. And my “grown-up daughter” can’t fry an egg. What
lift. I’m a distortion behind you, a smudge on a semi-reflective wall. You step past, away, out. The doors close, slowly enough.) As if the equal after Sappho It’s as if the equal – more than the equal – of a god is facing you, sitting with you (she’s listening close) – and you’re speaking sweetly oh and her beautiful laugh – now the heart in my chest is fluttering, I’m winging this, and then I look, just for a second, and that’s my voice gone – as if – no, the tongue is