Friday, December 31, 2021

One Long Conversation

He met the famous author
As a student. His mentor
Asked him to go talk to her

At the small party after
Her New Year’s Eve lecture, when
The professor, his mentor,

Who had lured and cajoled her,
This famous author, to come
To their campus for a talk,

Realized he had nothing
Of interest to say to her,
Narrow scholar that he was

And wide-ranging novelist
Of science and history
In many themes that she was.

So, this professor pushed him,
The most broadly read student
In the English Department,

The one with scientific
And philosophical chops,
Or so he thought, straight at her,

The frumpy, famous author,
Short and round of hair and dress.
This sort of scheme never works,

Except that this time it did.
The anonymous student
And celebrated author

Chatted about anything
That wasn’t literature
For an hour, quite happily,

While all around them mingled
Post-this and Neo-thatists
Pleased to talk to each other.

Decades later, the student
Is still anonymous and
Certainly long forgotten

By the famous novelist,
Who is still celebrated,
Although not so much as once,

While the scholar is retired
And elderly with one last
Edited publication

Of an earlier famous
Author’s heretofore unseen,
Out-of-print work back in print,

And it’s another New Year’s
Eve on current calendars,
So people talk at parties,

If and where they can attend,
About what does or doesn’t
Seem interesting to them.

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