No talk of comets in the sky, or groaning wells –
A turbid adolescence. The academic gown,
That ocean of literature, freshets of verse,
All fodder. He learns to sell what sells,
Grows from dumb kid to something of a talker,
Picks up French, German, even Erse
‘to read James Joyce in the original –’
Writes on baseball for the New Yorker,
Insists the plural of ‘paradox’ is ‘conundra’,
Boasts about sex while remaining virginal.
His articles on gastronomy touched the obscene.
Dying, he dreamed of that distant province: thunder,
Rain, everything over – what did it mean?
-- John Tranter
First published in the Harvard Review, 2013