Different People
Paul Hostovsky

We both liked poetry but so what.
We would never be friends.
Two English majors living in the same
dormitory, with nothing in common but
great literature and small rooms. He was
not a nice person. I could tell by the way
he petted my cat he would not succeed in
love. He insisted he could make her purr
by scratching her in the place underneath
her chin, which he said they all loved.
When she didn’t, he blamed her, saying
she was weird. I had a framed copy of
Woman with Chrysanthemums by Degas
hanging on a wall in my room. He had
three walls of poetry and literary criticism—
his own personal library, a thousand books
I doubt he ever read—reaching to the ceiling,
which made me think of the chrysanthemums.
You could tell he’d had a bad complexion
though he had an excellent beard that almost
covered it up now. My girlfriend Melody
told me she heard he raped a woman once
at another school. She told me this one night
as we sat naked on the floor in my room.
We had just stopped making love because she said
it was hurting her and I immediately lost
my erection. So we made some tea and sat there
under the chrysanthemums, sipping tea and talking
about different things, different people.


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