I sit in the bookstore with the young Marxist. Computer screens have made her eyes sensitive and tender, like herbs. She looks from her laptop to me with lambsear defenselessness.
In manner she has my own cultural gentility, accomstomed to communicating softly, which is not to say quietly. A habit of more defining qualities than she can yet appreciate. Her custom is Iranian, mine Celtic, and yet in this respect we come from the same subtle country.
Her vocabulary is that of the deep internet: hilarity on top of a car with a rag in a bottle in a sweeping arm. She leaves to buy books.
Some days ago my lover was surprised to learn that the word “prairie” is in English also. “It’s where I grew up,” I explained, to explain its qualities. “The wide flat land at the center of the country.”
“In French it is a little field, a small and beautiful meadow.” His hands made a little meadow.
“In English it is more wild,” I said.
“But is it green?”
I hesitated. The prairie had come up to me, its pink straws rolled by the wind. Its whorls and precision, its mills, the business it still has with me. “Sometimes,” I said after an instant. “But in the winter it’s yellow.”
The Marxist returns to the table. I evaluate her purchases paternally. She has chosen the Allan Bloom edition of the Republic. “I hate Allan Bloom,” I tell her. “You will too.” She wants to know why I say so. “He’s very University of Chicago,” I explain. With cool Iranian irritation she says she doesn’t know what that means.
Once I went to her parents’ house in the SoCal hills. It was a rainy day. Silence and grass and airs, and storm sun on the horses’ backs like airplanes through low clouds in the dark.