A Love Swung Over J. Alfred Prufrock "Let us go then," he said,
Eyebrows twitching absentmindedly,
As he took me through the seedier alleyways
And fish restaurants in the lower half of Port Richmond.
Later we'd walk by the Art Museum,
So he could show off his knowledge of the Renaissance.
But really, he was a nice guy,
And I liked listening to him talk about Michelangelo
over toast and tea at the 9th Street Cafe.

Yes, it was a pretty October night,
Perfect for a brisk walk through the fog-laden city,
though I think he overdid the evening
when describing it later. It really wasn't yellow,
but more greyish-blue, as if the sky was backdropped
with old comfortable denim,
like the slacks he wore with the cuffs rolled.
He was quiet, watching the smoke rise from the grates,
As I chattered on about the show at the Walnut Street Theatre.
Occasionally his lips shook, as if he wanted to ask something,
but instead he'd stare intently at my face.
I wondered if he had seen the show before. Or maybe
I had some bread crumbs on my cheek.

And later, sipping tea in his apartment,
We listened to some Ellington on the radio,
With cakes and marmalade sitting on the table.
I waited for him to finish nibbling the silence,
But he didn't. I pulled the shawl around me tighter,
It was getting awfully chilly in there --
And yet, he just kept staring and twitching,
So I settled back in the chair to relax.

A few hours later the lamplight crept into my eyes,
As I'd apparently fallen asleep in my chair.
He had put a pillow under my head
And was still staring. So I asked what was wrong.
He muttered some things about Lazarus,
or how Prince Hamlet was a fool. I don't remember,
I was swimming through dreamy tea when he proposed to me.
At least I'm fairly sure he did; in the morning
he denied it all. A million revisions, indeed!
So I made him cook breakfast and call me a taxi.
After all, that was the least he could do after dragging
me across town and keeping me up all night.

He never called me again.
I read his poem in the Poetry National a few years later,
wondering if he knew I thought his bald spot was cute.

(c) Deanna Rubin 1996