A man I knew in college used to say he’d marry the woman who could recite the Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock by heart. I was charmed by this. So was his girlfriend, who never did marry him as far as I know. Maybe she didn’t pass the test. I wouldn’t have either. I can remember a few lines – eating a peach, Michelangelo, the women coming and going. I am not talented at poetry – remembering it or writing it. It’s laughable that I’m embarking on a project about a poem. When I read the New Yorker, poetry is what I make myself digest before I get to the cartoon dessert.
(When I was in the first grade standing in a line, the boy behind me – he was a twin but I don’t remember if he was the nice one or the mean one – explained the rule about how to spell dessert versus desert. “Two S’s are better than one and dessert is better than a desert!” Not once have I written either of those words and failed to think of that moment. Such a waste of brain space. Even if spelling is important.)
It was in my parents’ kitchen over Thanksgiving weekend that B and I decided to use Prufrock as our jumping off point for this new blog. Our last blog used a novel both of us had loved, and another book felt like the best of requirements, and we searched and searched until one of us – can’t remember which – said “What about Prufrock?” And then we began.
Did you know that about us? That we have spent most of the major holidays together for the last dozen years? It’s amazing to have a friend like this. B was there for the births – or, in two cases, the right-after-the-births – of all of my sons. I’m certain I’ll know her forever. We’ll be roommates at the Old Ladies’ Farm where we’re allowed all the dogs and milkshakes we want.
Prufrock for me is all about the ocean and a specific kind of loneliness. It does have ocean in it, doesn’t it? Because of the mermaids? You see? No talent for remembering poetry. I suspect that this book will be much more jumpy offy than our previous scaffolding. I will not be parsing couplets. I will not be marveling at semantics. Mostly I’ll be whining about my children and wishing fervently for a vacation someplace warm. Be warned. And be welcome.