The Ether Scented Table

When I first taught “Prufrock”
In my early thirties,
Childless,
Wifeless,
Grand ambitions,
I still could feel the foggy cat
Curling ‘round my feet,
Smell the ether,
See the sawdust,
Perceive the pin poised
To fix me wriggling to the wall.

But now a son is three.
And though I see myself
Still fight the against the
Mermaids’ whispers,
Songs that pull me to the depths of age,
To some drowning despair of lost potential,
There is hope for him.

He knows the Jabberwock
That old men fear,
That young men wish to tame.
I taught him that from crib to now,
No longer fear his younger years,
The early tests or trials.

I fear the years I will not see,
When his minutes become hours,
When nostalgia fights regret
And I’m not here to hold him fast
And smooth his hair
And rub his back
And tell him it will pass.

My father’s burden
Now is mine.
Perhaps my son’s ahead.
I do not fear he will not feel
The young man’s joy
Or live life full and long.

But a time will come
When I shall sing the song
Of love and loss.
A lesson that I hope he hears,
Embraces, inhales like shaman smoke,
To do what’s right,
To eat the peach,
To leave the pants unrolled.
To be the artist spoken of
And stroke the downy arms
And gaze into the eyes
And kiss the open lips
And sing the ocean songs
That mermaids hear
And pull them to the shore.

So dare, my son.
Dare to do the things you’ll do.
Dare to leave regrets behind.
Dare to love and dare to lose.
Dare to fall and rise again.
And rise again.
And rise again.

It’s Prufrock’s broken spirit
That I dread.