[The cracking of brush underfoot, as the camera moves through landscaped shrubbery]
[Camera left, to suburban mall parking lot]
David Attenborough: Pushed out of their natural downtown habitat, American poets have taken up residents in mall food courts and the cafes of big box bookstores like this typical Barnes & Noble in Owings Mills, Maryland.
David Attenborough: Their numbers are few. A winter of rejections left them in weak condition, with ruffled feathers. But it is finally spring and they, like all other animals, respond to the lengthening daylight: they resume “pecking.” Let’s watch the unusual display of the female American poet that scientists who study the mating habits of American poets call, “Dog-earing A Page Out Of A Book by Merwin, Or Some Equally Famous Poet, But Not A Stupendously Popular Poet Like Billy Collins.”
[The female American poet enters bookstore café, clad in jeans, scarf, and laptop. She opens her laptop, flips through Mark Strand’s “Blizzard of One” dog-ears a page, puts the book down and commences “pecking”]
David Attenborough: In so doing the female conspicuously leaves the male American poet evidence that she is, “Open To Discussing Favorite Poets They Have in Common.” The male American poet can now come out of hiding, sitting as he was, cross-legged in an anorak in the Modern Poetry Section deep within the bookstore.
The male American poet now does a millennia’s-old ritual scientists call, “Pulling From The Deepest Recesses Of His High School Memory A Line From Shakespeare About Spring Or From Romeo and Juliet.” He also may offer the female American poet the uneaten half of his “blueberry scone,” though very few females accept and he has more luck later, when he offers to buy the female a cup of “Starbuck’s Verona.”
[Camera does a 360 around the male and female American poets, now deep in conversation about a profile of Kay Ryan they read in The New Yorker. They both feel the article “nailed Ryan’s anti-confessionality.” Scientists who study the mating habits of poets call this, “So Much Depends On A Red Wheelbarrow” because, at this point, anything can happen.]
[The image of the couple quickly dissolves and is replaced by an image from “later.” The American male and female poets are in bed, deeply asleep, in a nondescript suburban townhouse, which is only 30-45 minutes from downtown, depending on traffic.]
David Attenborough: Success! [Dramatic pause] At least for the time being.
[Camera pans the male American poet’s kitchen, as if searching for something it is not finding]
David Attenborough: Scientists who study the mating habits of American poets say the next move is so important to the long-term happiness of the couple, they call it the “T.S. Eliot-O-Meter.” The male must have an impressive Italian espresso maker and must offer the female an espresso and they must agree on T.S. Eliot.
If the female stirs her espresso and says coquettishly, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” and the male replies, “T.S. Eliot, what a jerk,” and the female doesn’t immediately respond, “T.S. Eliot: a dry pompous anglophile,” the relationship is doomed; it’s back to the mall for both of them.