Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 125 in December, 2010.
I was Virgil’s guide
(I have to preface this
by saying that I’m a
real estate broker and he
was looking for an apartment),
but the whole thing had
much in common with the Inferno
especially when it came to
what people were getting for
a one room studio in the West Village.
I had always wanted to meet Virgil
and I felt partially disappointed
by the fact that I was coming in
through the back door in a service capacity,
rather than encountering him as a peer.
I’m a thinker, too, but on the few
occasions when I tried to squeeze in
literate comments that indicated
I knew about the great works of classical antiquity,
he didn’t pay attention.
I was sure when I mentioned Lucretius’
De rerum natura,
he was going to ask,
“oh you know him?”
or say “I knew him,” but he
pretended not to hear.
He plainly didn’t want to talk shop
and he wasn’t interested in taking a philosophical attitude
towards our little search.
He cursed at the offerings and cursed even
louder when he heard the price.
We kept wandering around
in the rain
and I started to think
we’d be looking for eternity,
(which is one of the occupational hazards
of dealing with a mythic figure)
when finally we came upon something that
fit Virgil’s requirements,
a cute listing on the corner of Bleecker and Perry,
a walkup with no light
that was asking mid five’s.