The Realist

‘You can’t really think I would like this!’ and he hands the gift back to his wife. ‘Did you ever know me to have anything like this?
     ‘Yes, me!’


‘Did you ever find out about that tree?’ the wife asks.
     ‘A lady in the park told me – it’s catalpa!’
     ‘A lady in the park? Who is the lady in the park?’
     ‘She probably had a dog,’ her husband says.
     ‘You were flirting with a woman in the park! Is she beautiful?’
     Losing his balance as he goes, owing to a crack in the pavers – her husband leaves her side.
     The once well-anchored man falls down and this becomes one of those village-life scenes that feature a recumbent figure, who is an object of interest to others.
     The husband lies there for a spell on his belly – face forward and chin up – before he stands. And his wife finds a place to sit beside a garden that achieves a planted-by-nature effect.
     How lovely! – a passer-by thinks while looking at the wife.
     She puts him in mind of the feminine ideal, a bit too pretty, as she looks sideways and smiles, frowns, glances upwards.
     An aquatic garden is close at hand, woodland trails, and an information booth. The City of New York owns these grounds.
     And the husband – he is also a resource in great demand, thought by many women to be strong and protective.
     His wife stamps her foot near the paw of a squirrel. ‘He is too near!’ she says to her husband, who is now at her elbow.
     ‘He is eating,’ her husband says, ‘a banana chilli.’
     ‘What is a banana chilli? Oh, from somebody’s lunch. He is following us!
     Other animals have followed her, of course. Slow dogs.
     Once she followed a strolling pigeon for more than several blocks and wondered, Why does this pigeon choose to walk? Why not just fly?
     She is not in a hurry either – to face the facts of her marriage
     She never knew a pigeon walked distances.
     I will not disturb this bird! – she was thinking, even though it could not care less about her.
     How far will it? – she was guessing – can it go on this way?

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences