Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I have always admired Eliot's work, but then I memorized Prufrock. It took me weeks and weeks reading it over and over again in free moments, moments not measured out in coffee spoons. Someone I love loved the poem and I thought that by putting every little word through my head I could figure out what he loved about the poem. I don't think Eliot wanted to "go then you and I" with a woman necessarily. He was looking for a friend, someone he could explain his life to, someone who would understand the pressures of upper class life in England living as a poet and living almost alone. Eliot's wife was nearly insane and although he loved her spirit and the way she laughed he was tormented by her moods and she apparently never lacked for a mood.

Eliot's best friend fixed him up with his sister, that's how he met his wife. I always tell people I know that I can tell who has a best friend and who does not by the way they speak of them. If you have a best friend they don't allow you to marry an insane person whether they love them and are related to them or not. They give you the heads up, the nudge as it were. I once saw Oprah talking to a woman who claimed her best friend slept with her husband and Oprah just shook her head and said, "you don't have a best friend and it's certainly not this woman you used to know." AMEN.

Back to Prufrock. He wrote of mermaids and dreams he had as a child. Eliot was feeling sorry for himself, dancing with melancholia (I do this myself at times so I can see the signs) and wondering what his life had been if he had taken the moment at hand as he was sure he should have several times and "forced a situation to it's crisis." And if he had would she had replied, "That is not what I meant at all, that is not what I meant at all." or would she had taken ownership and lived an authentic life, owning up to what we mean and living so that we don't have that moment when we have to force a crisis because anyone that would love us would know what we wanted. I struggle with that, telling people that I love who are already burdened with the busy thing that is their lives what I then expect from them. Soon months will pass and I will begin to wonder why they can't figure it out on their own. Insane.

While I love Eliot's poem and wonder how many times he rolled up his trousers and walked along the beach and I can't help but eat a summer peach and wonder if he smiled while eating his or if he was so full of self consideration that nothing could make him smile. Men carry a unique burden that women are only beginning to understand in the era of single mothers. The men in Eliot's time couldn't afford to be "insane." They had to work, to raise a family and to maintain an image. I being a single mother I felt empathy for the poet and listened to his words in my head until I felt a kindred spirit. There were many days when my son's father was MIA, off living his own life and I would have loved for a few days alone just to go a little crazy and self-analyze my life. Putting it in a poem is one thing, dancing on the table in a bar is quite another.

So after I put Prufrock in my head, the bossy republican sends me a first edition of Eliot's work and that's where I found this poem:

      S she laughed I was aware of becoming involved
      in her laughter and being part of it, until her
      teeth were only accidental stars with a talent
      for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps,
      inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally
      in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by
      the ripple of unseen muscles. An elderly waiter
      with trembling hands was hurriedly spreading
      a pink and white checked cloth over the rusty
      green iron table, saying: "If the lady and
      gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden,
      if the lady and gentleman wish to take their
      tea in the garden ..." I decided that if the
      shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of
      the fragments of the afternoon might be collected,
      and I concentrated my attention with careful
      subtlety to this end.

Strangely enough it wasn't my laugh I thought of and it wasn't a romantic issue with me. It felt like having lunch with the Best Friend. We'd be lost in laughter in some small cafe near Northwestern, eating shrimp tacos for the first time. We had horrible service, really horrible service and our waitress was off sitting on a computer while we were waiting for another glass of ice tea on a hot summer afternoon. I said, "I hope she's not spending her tip." and we both broke out in laughter and I wondered how manyh other people wished they were me, and would know the joy of making my best friend laugh during an afternoon where we didn't have to be anywhere and nobody was anxiously awaiting our return. We could shop, we could sit and laugh, we could drive up to that little park by the lake and roll out the old quilt in the back of my car and read goofy magazines and play backgammon. If she laughed enough, the afternoon would be completely gone.

I wondered who Eliot's friend was. Was she his wife right before they put her back in a straight jacket? Was it an editor or a woman he almost knew who caught his eye in his lonliness? Was it a woman nobody knew but him and they shared stolen afternoons in a tiny Parisian cafe? Did she hand make butterflies and hang them in a park in the trees? Did she remember his birthday when nobody else in the world remembered? Did she kiss him just once and melted his heart? I haven't found any other information about the poem and I am glad. I like the mystery of the heart of a poet.

Work stuff? Ah, it's all good. The summer is breezing by and I am getting ready for Christmas already. I am working on a new line to add to my jewelry and in another week or so I will be ready to photograph. It's been really fun and I can't wait to see what sort of interest develops. If you are interested in my art you can always find me at Poetsummer.etsy.com or on Ebay under the seller name POETSUMMER and my own Ecommerce site at Summerpoet.com. You can always reach me at Summerpoet@msn.com and I welcome any emails. Thanks for spending this time with me. Carrie.

No comments: