Christopher Narozny

From the bottom drawer of my desk I produced a jagged swath of 18th-century silk discovered during the restoration of a Cathedral outside Lisle-sur-Tarn. There was a geometric pattern embroidered along the bottom edge; an obvious flaw in the stitching suggested to me that the scrap was originally intended as part of a larger work. My guest -- the preeminent scholar in our field, a man whom I wanted to impress -- spent a long while hunched over the protective casing. "Remarkable," he said. And then, as though I'd meant for him to spend more than a few private moments with the artifact, he transferred the case into his black leather bag and fastened the buckles. I told myself at least I was in the good graces of my most prestigious colleague. During the rest of his visit I said little, and when, several months later, his wife died, I had the department secretary send a card.