Mary Leader from Cornucopia of Arcadia


You gave a talk. I asked if you'd send me

The pdf. Print! I punched, ran into

You in the hall, my copy held aloft.

I did not make the mistake of thinking

Committedly that the portrait you used

On your cover page was of Sir Isaac;

Promptly I was sorry I had blurted

"Newton?" "No, no," you corrected, "Leibniz."

I looked up Newton's face later. Thinner,

Much. Nor were his eyes anything like as

Pleasant-looking as those of your Gottfried

Wilhelm Leibniz. "And anyway," you said,

"Doesn't matter who it is. Is there for

Wig." Wig. The wig. The wig? I must have looked. . . .


Bewildered, me. Why would Leibniz's wig

Be pertinent to your paper? You saw

The need to explicate: "Conference is on

Baroque." Ah. Wig. I said, "Ah. To depict

Coils." You said, "That's right. Curls." You'd misheard me,

Slightly. Trying not to be an inch or

Three taller than you, I leaned back against

The corridor wall. It made no difference:

Coils versus Curls. Both par for the Baroque.

Weeks, allegro. Yet another stilted

Reception, crowd buzz, insignificant

Blah blah blah . . . but you let me know something

Important: ". . . yeah, they use ton of adjuncts

Yadda yadda my girlfriend lives there. Yeah. . . ."


International Luminary, you.

Theory, philosophy, quantum physics.

Actual genius, actual friendships

With real cognoscenti. Music. Painting.

Mont Blanc! you'd scaled it, studied it at least,

Knew British Romantics, and how to ski

(Hurt knee aside). Postmodernism (that

One also—yep, I snooped—the field of your

Brilliant girlfriend in New York). My moment

Came, however. I simply dropped the mask:

"I've read so little." You said, "That's all right."

Eyes drawn to eyes. I took you at your word,

Was able to retain my familiars:

Milkweed, mud, extra butterfly monarchs.

Back to 51.1