THE ELECT Under the splendid chandeliers the august heads are almost all fragile, gray, white-haired or bald against the backs of thronelike chairs. They meet in formal membership to pick successors to their seats, having eaten the funeral meats, toasted the names on the brass strips affixed behind them, tier on tier, on chairs like upright coffin tops. When a withered old head drops, up is boosted a younger's career. The chamber is ancient and elite. The lamps pour down a laureate gold. Beyond the windows blue and cold winter twilight stains the street, as up from the river the wind blows over slabs of a steep graveyard, its names under snow. A last award: to be elected one of those.