Do I Dare To Eat a Peach?

>> Wednesday, October 27, 2010

When I was pregnant with Sam, I craved peaches. Not the, “oh, it sounds really really good so I’ll have some” kind of craving, but an “I have to eat this now to nourish my soul or I will shrivel and die” kind of craving.

Before the blessed peach season arrived where we were living (in Provo) I sometimes dreamt I lived in Georgia. I am not making this up.

When I finally had access to peaches, I would take my big belly rambling through the farmer’s markets up on 800 N. in Orem. I was a fixture at their stalls. I ate as many as 8 peaches every day. Fruit flies took over our kitchen but I was sated.

It was about this time that I thought about t.s. eliot’s poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I had read it, of course, in my literature courses, but I didn’t really understand it. I had a vague notion that there was something poetic about my welcoming this new life into my world and craving peaches. But vague was all it was.

Now, more than a few years later, I ask myself the real question with full knowledge of it’s significance: Do I dare to eat a peach?

You see, I have tried to get pregnant after Sam. I really have. We’ve gone through all sorts of fertility treatments and prayers and everything in between. Really.

I’ve been pregnant twice. The first time I lost the baby at around 8 weeks. It was an awful experience. On an airplane. Matt was in China. Sam was with me. You can work out any other details. Awful.

But, just a few months later I found myself going through the fertility process again. This time I got pregnant with twins. It was touch and go. I lost those babies at 15 weeks just 6 days after we had arrived in Beijing.

I thought I would die. I couldn’t imagine how it was possible that my body could breathe in and out. I didn’t know anyone could hurt that badly and live.

But day after day and month after month and, finally, year after year, I began to breathe again on my own.

And now, I wonder if I can do it all again. I have been that “patient etherized on a table” both figuratively—as I’ve lost my soul in the yellow fog of grief— and literally—as I’ve had multiple surgeries involved in the whole fertility, birth, loss process. Ether, whether emotional or chemical, is not kind.

But that peach still calls to me with its furry skin that somehow hides the grit but yet peels off to reveal the moist, succulent sweetness. I can feel my teeth pressing through the flesh and the juice running down the side of my mouth and my tongue pushing the pulp from the sweet-sensing front of my tongue to the better-sensing back of my tongue where I swallow. And now, as I write this, I am weeping.

Tonight we were at a ward activity. One of the young married girls brought her week-old baby and I was standing around admiring him along with three other young married girls. In the course of the conversation, I found out that they were all pregnant with their second child.

I am not a young, married girl any more. I am not pregnant. I can appreciate peaches. But do I really want to eat one? Is it worth risking the Ether? Or is not eating a peach a form of Ether itself? Do I dare to eat a peach?

1. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse

A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,

Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.

Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo

Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,

Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

LET us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherised upon a table;

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

The muttering retreats


Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument

Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question …


Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,


The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes

Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,

Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,

Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,

Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,


And seeing that it was a soft October night,

Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time

For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,

Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;


There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder and create,

And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate;


Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go


Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

Time to turn back and descend the stair,

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—


[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]

My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—

[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]

Do I dare


Disturb the universe?

In a minute there is time

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,


I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I know the voices dying with a dying fall

Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—


The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,

When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,

Then how should I begin

To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?


And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—

Arms that are braceleted and white and bare

[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]

It is perfume from a dress


That makes me so digress?

Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.

And should I then presume?

And how should I begin?
. . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets


And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes

Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!


Smoothed by long fingers,

Asleep … tired … or it malingers,

Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,

Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?


But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,

Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,

I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,


And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,

After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,

Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,

Would it have been worth while,


To have bitten off the matter with a smile,

To have squeezed the universe into a ball

To roll it toward some overwhelming question,

To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,

Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—


If one, settling a pillow by her head,

Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.

That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,

Would it have been worth while,


After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,

After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—

And this, and so much more?—

It is impossible to say just what I mean!

But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:


Would it have been worth while

If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,

And turning toward the window, should say:

“That is not it at all,

That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . .


No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that will do

To swell a progress, start a scene or two,

Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,

Deferential, glad to be of use,


Politic, cautious, and meticulous;

Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;

At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—

Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …


I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.


I have seen them riding seaward on the waves

Combing the white hair of the waves blown back

When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown


Till human voices wake us, and we drown.


A miracle

>> Sunday, October 17, 2010

I visited a ward for their ward conference today in my new official capacity as a member of the Stake Young Women's presidency. During the lesson, one of the Young Women leaders asked if any of the girls had ever experienced a miracle. A few hands raised and the girls shared their stories. Then one girl, who is blind, raised her hand. She said that twice, when she was looking in the mirror in the privacy of her bathroom, she has seen herself. Her whole face. I could feel the wonder in her voice as she shared this simple miracle.

I have been thinking about that all day. I wonder what it would be like to never know what I looked like. Or what other people looked like. And then, for one miraculous moment, glimpse a picture of who I am. What a wonderful blessing that would be for me. A moment of pure self-knowledge.

I love that she didn't need to see anyone else for comparison. Just knowing herself was enough.

I often seek for pure knowledge of myself, asking "What do I want to be when I grow up"--even though I'm coming up on 40 years old. I wonder what it would be like for me, in my spiritual blindness, to really see who I am, to see myself as God sees me--minus the faults and insecurities and blemishes that are all too apparent every time I look in the mirror or reflect on the state of my soul.

My guess is that I, too, will experience moments of clear vision. Maybe just a few or maybe many. I hope I recognize them, just like this young woman did, as miracles.

God gives me what I need. I can rely on his sight until he shares his vision with me. That's a miracle, too.


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