The Love Song of J. Middle-Aged Stayathomemother

(In half-assed homage to “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T.S. Eliot)


Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like smeared cupcakes on an abandoned bake sale table;
Let us go, through half-deserted parking lots,
The white lines resembling burial plots
To restless nights in rickety camp-chairs
On soccer sidelines with windswept hairs;
Lots that fill with SUVs
and empty then, with orderly ease
To lead you to an overwhelming question
Oh, do not ask, “Dinner, Mom — what is it?”
To Stop & Shop we make our visit.


In the room the women come and go
Talking of an accent throw.


The fingerprints that always come back upon the window-panes,
No amount of Method cleaner rubs it from the window-panes,
The kids licked Hershey syrup with their tongue, from the corners of their mouths,
And let it linger upon your sink and drains,
They’ve made a mess by shooting Silly String at the chimney
Their friend Jackson slipped on the new bluestone terrace, made a sudden leap,
And once you’d hosed off the blood and checked the homeowner’s policy
(since Jackson’s parents are known to be litigious)
Curled once about the sectional, and fell asleep.


In the room the women come and go
Talking of that Kardashian ‘ho.


And indeed there will be time
To regain the pink flush of your youth that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
But moisturize your face to meet the faces at girls’ night that you meet;
There will be time to daydream and create,
And time for all the Pinterest pins and hours of Netflix
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred sex positions
And for a hundred vinyl listens to Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions,
Before the imbibing of a G&T. Or three.
Which you need. Right now. Desperately.


In the room the women come and go
Talking of what they think they know.
Or at least were sure they heard Kathie Lee and Hoda say about vaccines on The TODAY Show.


And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Nah. Time to turn back and watch “What Not to Wear”
In sweats, with a white skunk line in the middle of my hair —
(Without extensions they will say: “How her hair is growing thin!”)
Then — Hunter boots, an infinity scarf wrapped firmly to the chin,
A twinset, cashmere and modest, asserted by a monogram bracelet, maybe a pin —
(They will say: “Why are her arms and legs no longer thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which hormones will reverse.
Can we drive back to the restaurant? I think I left my purse.


For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, afternoons, newborn sun-ups,
I have measured out my life with Keurig K-cups;
I know the fortysomething marriages dying from a dying fall
Beneath the glint of glasses of white wine.
So how should I nurture mine?


And I have known the PTA members’ eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a judgmental phrase (because you never volunteered for Field Days)
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a yoga mat,
When I am pinned and wriggling in plow pose on the wall,
Then how should I lose body fat
To extricate all the Ben & Jerrys pints of my days and ways?
               And how should I presume, in Lululemon?


And I have known the arms already, known them all–
Arms that are Alex and Ani-braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair! No, my child — please don’t use Nair. I don’t know what kind of parabens are in there.)
Is it the size of my teenage daughter’s dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, suddenly as long as mine, suddenly as tall.
               And should I then presume?
               And how should I begin?


Shall I say, I have gone at dusk, walking an incorrigible dog through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the dryer vents
And lonely children in travel team jersey sleeves, leaning out of car windows? …


I should have been a housewife of New Jersey
Louboutining across reality TV.


And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by meds, chocolate or booze
Asleep…tired…whatever poison we choose,
Stretched on the floor, here beside the labradoodle and me.
Should I, after coconut water and gluten-free cakes and worries of ISIS,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and juiced
Though I have seen my husband’s head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet, not like Oprah or Ina Garten — and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my hotness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my pashmina, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.
So I took another half-tab of Xanax. And a square of dark chocolate. It has reservatrol, for Chrissakes. Dr. Oz says it’s healthy.


And would it have been worth it, the single-girl lore,
After the lattes, the macchiatos, the chai teas,
Among the Williams-Sonoma porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have opted for singlehood and a fast-track career with a smile,
To have fit all my belongings into that UWS walk-up junior 4,
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am your twentysomething years come from the dead,
Come back to tell you that it’s better here where you are”—
If one, settling a terry bath pillow by her head
               Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
               That is not it, at all.”


No! I am not Princess Kate, and no matter how many Pilates classes — nor was meant to be;
Am a suburban wife, one that will do
To swell a Board of Ed meeting, lead a Brownie troop or two,
Unsolicitedly advise that other mother, who at times, is a well-meaning fool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Highlighted, manicured, and meticulous;
Still full of ideas, but as her daughter reminds her, a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous–
Almost, almost at times, tempted to use the selfie stick she got for Christmas as a tool.


I grow old … I grow old …
Maybe I should wear the bottoms of my boyfriend trousers rolled.
Do they make me look fat? Or desperate?
If I put this outfit on Instagram, I’d be comment-trolled.


Shall I part my hair down the middle and curl both ends in beachy waves?   Do I dare to eat a non-organic peach?
Would that I were brave enough to wear white linen trousers and a bikini top, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
In tiny Lily Pulitzer bikinis, hair perfectly blown back
In slimming prints of teal, white and black.
We have lingered too long in the chambers of the sea
And now need face peels, coverups and sunhats, and SPF 60.
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