Twenty-seven bucks got you as far as St. Louis,once the gambol of young Thomas Stearns Eliot,an indoor creature, his double hernia delicatelytrussed as he daydreamed his mahogany futurestaring into the glass of Prufrock’s Furniture,plotting revenge against the failure of his flesh.
You heard, on the radio, that Eliot was the greatpoet from St. Louis, so you bought his Quartets,recited the liturgical lines as you washed floorsnightly at the medical school. There, you metDr. Fischer, famed neuroanatomist, fugitiveof Kristallnacht, who insisted on cleaning hisown lab to Wagner’s Flying Dutchman. He sawyour mop and asked your name. Within a week,you’d offered to work for free if he would trainyou in pathology, and to his surprise you lovedperfusing tissue, fixing slides, teasing diseaseinto blooms of legible color. You did not flinchat gutted cadavers or dank shit of euthanizedchimps. Neither of you spoke of a past, of menmechanized in murder who killed off a sister,or the dark knives in a drunk mother’s slurrykitchen. Both of you, schooled in subterfuge,took temporary refuge in never looking back.