Even relating it, Sofia shivered with the weirdness of it.
He’d read all my stuff online, I mean all of it. And he was like, glistening with the effort
of being nice to everyone, but especially me. How he knew I’d be there I don’t know.
What I hate is that I bought it. I thought he was lonely, sure, but changed, mature. It was only
after, walking home, that Jen told me. And I yelled at her for letting me interact with that,
which I regret, but she fucked up. I don’t care if he’s sober: hate is worse. Hate is poison.
I’d been murmuring sympathetic words, my face mirroring her revulsion; now I filled my eyes
with the care I felt for her, and feel; however, what I could find to say ended before the love did,
so a small silence came, Sam squeezed her hand, our expressions softened to the resting smile,
and as her head tilted toward his shoulder my eyes slipped over her other shoulder to
Miriam, who was putting down her seltzer because, I could tell, she was preparing to
talk, and as Mark was finishing, as everyone—Jasper and Rob, Mark himself, and me—
was still chuckling at his Folsom Street Fair bit, the leather grannies and the librettist
who played bemused but two hours later was getting fisted on the sidewalk, she launched,
drawlingly: That reminds me of the last time I saw John Ashbery: the National Book Award
after-party was at an apartment on Central Park West, the elevator opened in the living room
and there he was, pouting under the chandelier, in his wheelchair, alone, he’d lost his handler
to the bathroom and no one was noticing him, so he just began waving his empty hand,
yelling, Gin and tonic! And I tried, but there was only champagne and elderflower and
can you imagine telling that to John Ashbery?—Lord. It can ice your heart to rediscover
people you admired, or wanted to fuck, and find they’re just the same. Across the room, I found
Molly’s eyes and smiled. She didn’t: she had opinions about Miriam, and so I made my face grave
like hers and, turning back to the circle to slip from it, saw Jasper’s fingers on Mark’s lower back,
which I was glad for: there are so few people. And it’s uncanny how the deaths start so slow,
a few a year, even the terrible ones somehow logical, until gradually the shock grows constant,
or the unsurprise does, I don’t know, it depends I think on whether you read life as a comedy,
the sustainable way, or as a tragedy, which according to Yeats is when we really begin to live,
I was saying to Rumur, post-bump, he was nodding, humoring me, when Lily broke in
Well I don’t think how you read it matters half so much as how you write it, excuse me
for screwing up your metaphor, I mean how you live toward others, and I think some dissonance