Prouvaire whimpers in verse for the first ten minutes, when he can still formulate a coherent rhyme. By the time Combeferre has his pants in a rumpled pile around his ankles and his laced waistcoat unfastened, he begins to lose the thread of his poem. If he maintains the upper hand, he can tease Combeferre with couplets profound or profane, murmured around his cock or into his shoulder. The rhythm disappears if Combeferre falls to his knees, where he sometimes remains for what seems, to Prouvaire, to be a nearly infinite period punctuated by his own gasping, pleading voice. On the evenings when Combeferre spreads his thighs in implicit invitation, Prouvaire resorts to epithets murmured in his ear in lieu of finer control of language. All pretense of poetry disappears when he turns onto his belly, presses against Combeferre's patient fingers, and devolves into incoherent though finely metered gasps. When he finds release, it is wordless, his moment of freedom from the necessity to name everything. The litany resumes when his breathing settles, and he can begin to make verses again.
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