I will have to back up a little because 1993 is not ready to be discussed yet. She and I have had many conversations this week about what it was like to be introduced at such an early place in the story, and I’m letting her be who she is. Still a little shy and feeling immature in her tattered clothing.
So, about five minutes ago, we made an agreement. She will let me know when the time is right for sharing her most intimate secrets with a trusting audience, and I will back off until given further notice.
Which leads me to poetry and J. Alfred Prufrock.
1988. Running my fingers along the book spines of the Red Oak Intermediate School library, somehow I happened upon my first book of poetry. It must have an anthology of poems. Pulling it off the shelf, it weighed heavy with its bulky hardback cover and thick pages. My right hand rested open and flat on the table of contents, and I spanned down, looking for an attractive poem title. And there it was, “She Walks in Beauty,” by Lord Byron. Forgive me. I must share.
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824)
She Walks in Beauty
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
And that was it. I was in love.
My heart was captured. Raptured. Fractured.
Yes, I did. I started writing poetry after that. And, as you can see, my poetry writing skills haven’t progressed much since age 11.
However, the writing was solace for me. Scribbling words that took form with rhyming end-syllables comforted me through at least four years of heart breaking middle school soul-searching. Piles of 100-page notebooks hosted my most heartfelt words, raw with early adolescent emotions. Poetry — reading, writing, memorizing — it provided me a safe place to escape.
The words of other writers have always fed this hungry girl when she has felt malnourished by this world’s empty promises.
Today, I took time to read and then listen to T.S. Eliot read his poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” He and his lover take an evening stroll, and he speaks intimately of his insecurities, of his place in his present world. I find myself reading and rereading this stanza, hoping desperately that the Lord will guide me in this process of knowing and being known and healing.
“For I have known them all already, known them all : —
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So, how should I presume?”
Knowing. Measuring. Questioning. It’s everything I’m doing and some of what I’m undoing.
So much here is true. What’s a girl to do? (Yes, I snicker too 🙂
And maybe, after soaking up this sun beaming, clear-blue-sky Texas weekend, you’ll find yourself tired at the day’s end and wanting to read Eliot’s poem yourself. I leave you these, his beautifully crafted words to ponder.
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.