The Duel in Eugene Onegin
A man and dog are running through the woods. They blur and merge as they lope with legs extended. Now they’re a single creature, a dog with a man’s head, a dog wearing a tracksuit, a man with four dog-legs and a tail. They’re all of these creatures, a mob bearing down on me as I stroll along thinking about you in your rainy view of the Seine. Have the rats returned to the sewers? Have the tourists flocked back to the Place de la Concorde? I can’t wait to get home to the wood stove where I’ll sit with a glass of bourbon and a Henry James novel, oozing psychological insights I’d like to apply to your naked body. Your conversation exuded from James’s late novels, those I most admire with their syntactical precision and bitter wit. I want to lavish that wit as if shampooing your hair, the suds ballooning into the upper atmosphere where the air’s too thin to support aircraft. You’d giggle like a chipmunk — you know you would. Like the duel in Eugene Onegin, our discussions usually end with a whiff of gunpowder. The mob of men-dogs brushes past. Dog with a man’s head, dog in tracksuit, four-legged man with tail: they hardly deign to notice me, their collective panting powerful as steam locomotives propelling themselves through history.