In the House of the Latin Professor

By B. H. Fairchild b. 1942
All things fall away: store fronts on the west,
ANGEL’S DELICATESSEN, windows boarded
and laced in day-glow, BLUE KNIGHT AUTO REPAIR   
to the north with its verandah of rusted mufflers

and hubcaps of extinct Studebakers.
The diminishing neighborhood sprawls   
under dusty folds of sycamore and fading elm,   
the high birdhouse out back starling-haunted.

Inside the cottage a bay window translates   
the language of sunlight, flaring like baroque   
trumpets on the red carpet, shadow-dappled   
as the house turns slowly beneath the drift

of tree branch and sun. We have come
to shroud the couch in plastic, spread sheets   
over the fat reading chair and the piano’s   
mahogany gloom, the impossible etude’s

blur of black notes. Among a turmoil
of ungraded papers lies the Loeb Classics Aeneid
open to the last lesson. Later in the bedroom   
we imagine a flourish of light, her husband

loosening the sash of her white silk robe,   
his beard brushing the back of her neck.   
Amores, the art of love, of words lifting   
like vapors on a cold day, the dense vowels

of Ovid and Virgil almost vanished, almost   
risen to music. We lock the heavy door   
and walk away from the silence, the lone   
hexameters of Dido pulsing in an empty house.


B. H. Fairchild, “In the House of the Latin Professor” from The Art of the Lathe. Copyright © 1998 by B. H. Fairchild. Reprinted with the permission of Alice James Books.

Source: The Art of the Lathe (Alice James Books, 1998)

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Poet B. H. Fairchild b. 1942

Subjects Marriage & Companionship, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Living, Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 B. H. Fairchild

Biography

B.H. Fairchild was born in 1942 in Houston, Texas, and grew up in small towns in Texas and Kansas. The son of a lathe operator, he attended the University of Kansas and the University of Tulsa. His poetry explores the empty landscapes of the region of his birth, and the lives of its working-class residents, including his own family and friends. Frequently described as a poet of the “sacred,” Fairchild’s work has gained renown . . .

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SUBJECT Marriage & Companionship, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Living, Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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