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“Leave it to the Germans,” said Ben.

“They didn’t invent it,” I said. “They just named it.”

“To name a thing is to own it,” he said. “It’s theirs.”

And he walked away then,


waving goodbye with his

back to me, airily, triumphantly, the argument

won, the conversation over as

far as he was concerned. Though I don’t


dislike Ben exactly, nor envy him his

wife or Ph.D., which is in poetry—

the wife very pretty, beautiful even—when

a month later he tells me she told him she wants


out, I can’t help feeling—not joy

exactly, I wouldn’t call it Freude

not the sort of feeling you’d write an ode to,

but more the sort you might


write a dark little conversational  piece

in quatrains about—

just to say the conversation isn’t over

until it’s over.

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