I returned a book to John Ashbery last week. It was 1” x 1” x 1”, a perfect cube. “Gee, Michael, you’ve had that book for twelve years. What took you so long?” “It was surprisingly dense,” I answered, “almost as if nine-tenths of the universe’s dark matter were packed inside. Also, that azure cover put me off for a good while. I thought it might be a Symbolist work, something about swans and ice, and you know how I’ve detested swans ever since that incident . . .” “Did she ever recover?” asked John. “Outwardly she’s fine, but, really, she’s never been the same.” “Well, I’m not entirely myself today either,” said John, “but I’m happy to have that book back. I’ve always liked that strange title. What do you think it means?”