At his trial, the old man studied the jury intently, fearlessly, as a child would. He was dressed neatly, in a black suit, a blazing white shirt, a tie so dark and thin it appeared from a distance to be a snake making its way slowly, imperceptibly towards the old man's mouth.
I use too many adverbs; it has always been the case, my mentors and critics have said so. I think my love of this part of speech stems from my childhood, the daughter of inventors and scientists, a man and a woman always in the act of taking the world apart to see how it worked--or didn't. I inherited a bit of this impulse from them, a desire to know precisely how a thing moves , and so the adverb is my favorite tool, my ally. But I will try to improve here, now, as I tell this story.
I had been sent to cover this trial for my paper in Paris. Actually, I sent myself, since I was editor. My mother knew the old man, Pound, in the 1920's. He wrote about my father in his twenty-third Canto, my father testing radium, my father who would very soon be crushed under the wheels of a carriage--se fait ecraser; he made himself to be crushed . And so I was delighted to be there, to see him, to see what the Americans will make of him, which is, so far, a kind of demon.
These proceedings have been difficult to watch, and some moments I must grip the arms of my chair in order to keep quiet. When they are being gentle--his advocates, even--they say he is eccentric, but sometimes they call him neurotic, paranoid, delusional, terms which are, at their core, quite empty, for they name spiritual emptiness. Others call him grandiose, vituperative, a "confabulist." I saw him smile at that one, and I reached forward to touch his shoulder. I am sorry to say he did not like that very much; he twitched violently and slapped at the place where my hand had been. His solicitor leaned in and whispered a few words, and then the two of them shifted in their seats to look at me. "Eve Curie," Pound said, his voice like an old stone breaking open, and then he grinned. "Got yer apple, Eve? Waal, I ain't bitin.'" The smile drifted out of his eyes, off his face. "Merci " he said. "Thanks for coming. Appearing. Grazie for the apparition."
For the lunch recess, I had to walk a ways from the court. I was nervous and distracted, for I was to meet--I hardly know what to call him now--Dr. Langevin, whom I had not seen for twelve years. I wasn't sure how I would know him, how I would recognize his face, his neck and chest above a white cloth and silver and glassware in the restaurant where he had reserved a table. I had always known him by smell: tobacco, brandy, the...
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