Jacqueline Jules is the author of three chapbooks including Itzhak Perlman's Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her poetry has appeared in over 100 publications.
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My English Teacher Never Told Me
“Let us go then, you and I…” from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot
The language licked my senses.
Made seventeen-year-old me
read and re-read until I
was roaming the streets,
longing to eat a peach
and wear my trousers rolled.
Prufrock was afraid the mermaids
would not sing to him. So was I.
He was afraid of drowning, too.
His words rose and fell in my ears,
lilting waves upon the beach.
I still swoon a bit reciting them.
But I shouldn’t, should I?
knowing now, the poet saw me
as nothing more than a ragged pair
of claws scuttling across the sand.
My English teacher never told me
Eliot hated Jews. Did he know?
Did he wonder, grading a Jewish girl’s
praise of Prufrock?
Can I blame him? For what? For giving me
a chance to separate the art from the artist
and to learn that not everyone I admire
is as flawless as I’d like.