I. Dorm Room

Theirs is that special condition of plenty
  available only to those with nothing
    on or between them. It’s as if they’d been
  out in the downpour, bodies wet as
    that—but they’ve stayed in all day. Again
  he studies her nape, fingertip-tests her hip.
He thinks her very young. Eighteen. He’s twenty.

II. Basement Lab

The entomologist drops into a pool of light to peer
  at the magnified maxillae of a rare beetle
    while something lackluster raps the dusty pane
  above her head, a passing fluster of drops
    hardly worth speaking of as rain;
  she bagged this firebrand, Pyrophorus ignitus,
on a slope that catches two hundred inches a year.

III. Rectory Study

A working drowse having overtaken him
  in the middle of a chapter, Father
    Ciprielli, who has led the boys,
  his fresh recruits, into Gaul every fall
    for forty years, now shuts his eyes.
  The same grammar that carried him off will,
when it slips from his lap, soon, awaken him.

IV. Halted Train

It’s too perfect: can the small boy on the train
  really be an OTTO (as finger-printed
    on the steamed-up window), a name
  not only palindromic but bilaterally
    symmetrical—and therefore the same
  for his two circles of readers, those in the warm
interior, and those reading backward, out in the rain?

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 25 Number 1, on page 73
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