After Meeting J.M. Coetzee

In my dream
I am the Nobel Prize winner
and he is the quiet admirer at the foot of the stairs.
He is decidedly modest about the popularity of his work
just as I say nothing about my recent raves in the Utne Reader
and Granta.
I am with a woman named Genevieve
(pronounced the French way).
She is tall and slender and wears a black dress
slit between the legs
pearls and a diamond pendant
and her eyes tell everyone in the room that she adores me
while he is with a chick from the hood named Darla
who is wearing open-toed sandals and capris.
My books are displayed in hermetically sealed library cases
along with literary memorabilia
and a few choice photographs from my distinguished past.
Some of the guests attending the reception
tell him that they bought his latest book
for a hospitalized aunt
or a black sheep brother who didn’t go to college.
I am generous when I meet him
and say how much I admire his work
even though I don’t.
Our lady friends size each other up
and he and I exchange a long, transporting gaze.
He realizes that I am envious of his popularity with readers
just as he resents my astounding success
in the faculty lounge.


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