In the Room the Women Come and Go

“He’s creating a vision of maleness that men

Can feel quite relaxed with, you know, and again

Not homoerotic, and not the male gaze –”

“But why are they naked?” “I think that it says

Something’s going on there, a loud statement about

Male bodies and power.” “And David’s a shout!

And Adam, and God and that space in between…

And those male supporters! I see what you mean.”

“Now his women of course aren’t like women at all

Just breasts on men’s bodies.” “How he had the gall!”

“Except the Pieta, she’s real. Her sorrow –”

“If this fog’s yellow now, it’ll be brown tomorrow!”


“I’m worried now Prufrock’s back-combing his hair.

It’s thinning, all right, but he shouldn’t despair.

We’re all getting older, just look at my chin.”

“He drinks too much coffee.” “I drink too much gin!

Yes, fill it up, Dorcas, and not so much fizz.

He says he’s not Hamlet, but which of us is?


“Well I rather like him. He’s shy, that has charms.”

“My dear! Have you noticed his thing about arms?

And the way that he hesitates out on the stairs?

And his tie, and those awful rolled trousers he wears?

“I don’t care. I like him. He gave me a rose.

I’d take him right now if he’d only propose.”

“The thing is old Prufrock won’t say what he means,

We need to invent lighted nerves thrown on screens

To get some committment, and what even then?

We waste so much time trying to understand men.”

“And in his Last Judgement, Bartholemew’s skin –”

“That’s him at the door now, do make him come in.”


“We comb out the waves as they spill out their foam

We ride on the billows the long slow way home,

The red and black seaweed, the rocks, and the cave,

The bright schools of fish, the quick slap of the wave,

The rock of the tide that will change by and by,

To sing you to sleep on my breast, lullaby,

Our Protean palaces deep in the sea

The caverns of Tethys and Amphitrite,

With squid and with cuttlefish, starfish and whale,

And barnacled treasure that spilled from a sail.

The slow splendid sunset so far from the shore

The scuttling claws as they mark out the floor

For our dances, my sisters, far down in the deep,

Oh lullaby, lullaby, drift you to sleep.”


Jan 23rd 2018, Montreal

(The context for this is of course T.S. Eliot’s Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and I’m not sure it would make much sense without that context.)