Tuesday, June 5, 2007


So here's a really embarrassing thing. Twenty +/- years ago a very dear friend of mine (Tanya W., are you there?) loaned me a book. It was a book of poetry, "Shadow Train," by John Ashbery, which was really thoughtful because I'd just done a long paper analyzing his poem, "Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror" (fabulous poem, can't remember anything about it). And starting in Berkeley, it seems, I've carried "Shadow Train" with me, quite literally, all the way accross the country and the decades. Which is not the embarrassing part.

Two minutes ago I got an email message from "Payments-Amazon.com" telling me I'd sold "Shadow Train," by John Ashbery, and that I had two days to ship it. So I dug through my stack of books that I'd listed mindlessly on Amazon one night, found it, and - like Proust eating his madelaine - the cover illustration brought back Tanya, saying, "I thought you might want to borrow this...." Now in a truly ironic universe, it would be Tanya ordering it to replace the copy she mislaid (well, misloaned) years ago. Of course, it wasn't. But, in a nice tweak, if not quite a full 180 degree twist, of fate, it is being sold to a guy who lives in San Francisco, so at least it's flying back to the state it was loaned in.

Anyway, Tanya, if you're reading this, I owe you $7.50, which, given that you have three kids and a full-time job now, is probably worth more to you than a copy of John Ashbery's "Shadow Train." So, you know what they say, 'Tis better to have loaned and lost than never to have loaned at all. Oh, and the check's in the mail.

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