Poetry, past the expiration date

I know that Poetry Month ended yesterday...but a co-worker shared with me today this lovely little poem from Tennessee Williams, so I'm hoping that being one day tardy will be forgiven.

Life Story

After you've been to bed together for the first time, without the advantage or disadvantage of any prior acquaintance, the other party very often says to you, Tell me about yourself, I want to know all about you, what's your story? And you think maybe they really and truly do

sincerely want to know your life story, and so you light up a cigarette and begin to tell it to them, the two of you lying together in completely relaxed positions like a pair of rag dolls a bored child dropped on a bed.

You tell them your story, or as much of your story as time or a fair degree of prudence allows, and they say,

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,

each time a little more faintly, until the oh is just an audible breath, and then of course

there's some interruption. Slow room service comes up with a bowl of melting ice cubes, or one of you rises to pee and gaze at himself with mild astonishment in the bathroom mirror.

And then, the first thing you know, before you've had time to pick up where you left off with your enthralling life story, they're telling you their life story, exactly as they'd intended to all


and you're saying, Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,

each time a little more faintly, the vowel at last becoming no more than an audible sigh, as the elevator, halfway down the corridor and a turn to the left, draws one last, long, deep breath of exhaustion and stops breathing forever. Then?

Well, one of you falls asleep

and the other one does likewise with a lighted cigarette in his mouth, and that's how people burn to death in hotel rooms.

--Tennessee Williams

1 comment:

MightyToyCannon said...

Beautiful and touching ... and then I hit the punch line and laughed out loud.