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Portrait of T.S. Eliot
by Carol Bugge

Your gaze from behind a smoldering cigarette is ironic
the large, myopic eyes affecting amusement,
lips pursued in mid-smirk
A man of the world, surely no Prufrock here
no lost soul doomed to wander drawing rooms (before the taking of a toast
and tea) populated by indifferent, mute mermaids
The face is elegant, refined, urbane; even the gold pinky ring
strikes a pose comme il faut
Eyebrows arched, cheekbones sharp as the hull of a racing yacht,
nose long and straight as a fountain pen, delicately curved at the tip
Only the ears dispute the whole: large, ungainly,
protruding like the flaps of landing gear
from thinly oiled hair smelling ever so slightly of pomander
In the rooms you came and went, saw and wrote with a searing touch
found the sadness which lives behind the irony, which lives behind your eyes,
which finds us all sooner or later on summer afternoons,
bare arms in the lamplight notwithstanding
Hold it at arm's length with cakes and tea, with martinis,
with slowly burning cigarettes; no matter it comes, it comes.
For you, April was the cruelest month
But you met it head on, conquering with your art the yellow fog
that rubbed its back upon your window panes
undefeated, trousers rolled, you stand in the surf holding a half-eaten peach
gazing out to sea
The mermaids are silent: they have stopped to listen


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