Friday Poem

On Love, Proust, Chorus Girls, and Martha Nussbaum
I’ve been thinking about trying to read Proust
again. The legendary chorus girls of my youth
were said to carry him, volume by volume, from
try-out to try-out, perusing him in the Modern
Library Edition between calls, propping him up
on magnificent black-tighted legs. I sat for days
within the budding grove of the Stage Delicatessen,
Swann’s Way open before me, but never found
such a one. I kept imagining all I needed to do
was be at the right time in the right place with
the right book in my hand, and true love would
appear, ex nihilo, so to speak.
I read people who
say they love Proust – some I even believe.
Martha Nussbaum I believe. I love her talk
about Proust, or Henry James and, say,
The Golden Bowl. She makes me love the idea
of The Golden Bowl. In fact, she makes me love
the idea of Martha Nussbaum, though she’s an
Aristotelian while I’m nothing but a Platonist
in the Academy pointing to the idea of the book,
while Martha reads the thing itself.
So I picture
her as as a chorus girl, a fling before philosophy,
after a try out for Damn Yankees, maybe, humming
“Whatever Lola Wants” while paging through
her first Proust at the Stage Delicatessen,
while I keep on ordering a pastrami on rye
at the wrong time unaware of the fragility
of goodness. Now all I have from then is this
remembrance of things which never came to pass.

by Nils Peterson