STREETS OF FLOWERS
"I noticed one thing," Lloyd says, "and my biology background comes in handy here." Dr. Robson had criticized Lloyd for being unduly scientific but said it so mildly he took it as a compliment. His name was among the few she used, and he enjoyed the liberties of a favored student. "The names of the streets, Stephen, they're not flowers, most of them. Plants or shrubs maybe, but honestly. Ash? Beech? Cherry? Trees. All of them trees. Your basic, deciduous tree."
"You don't have to get that scientific on us, Lloyd," Dr. Robson says, using his name again in the congenial manner she took with him. Her hand had been raised to halt his naming the streets and she puts it down in her lap over the mushy blue mimeograph. "But that's a good criticism, nice, concrete."
Her remarks have remained ambiguous. She had responded to Lloyd as if waiting for someone to bring up this factual slip on Stephen's part. But the class titters, viewing it as a hint that she will declare the poem open for ridicule. As the first inkling of her position it has deadly force.
"The quality of the writing," the Aesthete says. "Let's take a look at the quality of the writing, can we?"
"And what, may I ask, do we find?" Dr. Robson asks, aiming her gaze at him. "Using your extensive knowledge of aesthetics, of course."
The Aesthete hesitates, unable to tell if Dr. Robson is flattering or belittling him.
"It's excessively romantic," he says. "Filled with purple passages. It's …" He wants to link it to aesthetics but can't.
"And it's loaded with extra, superfluous, unnecessary words," Braless Josie says.
"I kind of liked the title," the Guy with the Horses says.
"Oh please!" the Aesthete mutters over his back to Sam. The class disregards the remark except Braless Josie, who uncoils her viper smile, her head bending toward the Guy with the Horses like a snake about to strike.
The Toad steps in. Stephen knows he is trying to help.
"You have to admit the protagonist lives in a flowery world. Even his love for this girl Lenore. No one's considered this, his impossible desire for the eternal feminine."