She is gone. She was never here. She is
gone from me. I could weep. I am a man
and men do not cry, say all the men
who believed they taught me all I know.
Am I going to Oaxaca, where she is?
Or is she in Chicago, where the el roars,
I do not hold my hands over my ears,
but am not there. Nor am I in Oaxaca.
She is lost to me for the rest of life.
She waited, I hesitated, I stayed.
She waited and along came the man
who spliced her heart with his, loved
her the rest of a life. In the weather
on the mountain I remember bright sun
breaking through a month of rain.
Butterflies everywhere, having returned
to meet and flourish one more year.
Long waking soon followed by dream.
If there are mysteries seek riddles
that you can see through, sieves
much like no net below the mountain,
voices that stun the air, you never hear
the parrot scream. Where is the big cat
who reads strange palms to find a past?
I write endlessly and it is all full of sun
following the rain and the sun is bright,
so much so I cannot open both eyes
at once. Life enters always divided.
There is no cause for sorrow. She laughs
where once she wept and her lover feels
her heat and feeds her all the happiness
he has, love is called by no other name.
The sound of the waterfall. The din
of birds. Roar of a beast I don’t know,
I am my own demon. I could not know
where I was going when she came along.
I was in the doctor’s house and I was
writing of her trying to bring her back,
only sleeping when I ran out of words,
and then stayed so long I missed the sun
when it shone. Irish Cathleen was here.
She loved the senora, helping her travel
the path, loving the wilderness like a man
who is always wild enough to rein her in.
I am that man, she said. She knows nothing
of Leila Shulamit. That is well. I don’t know
either woman now but I remember one
holding my soul who would never let go . . .
I am aging faster than the water tumbles
over the falls, and the years never the same
years as the water over the falls is never
the same water, but it is always water.
The liver spots on my skin multiply. Who
am I to wear such flesh with aplomb,
as though I did not care to die with love
in my arms. I will go the one-way sleep
once I dream through the dust of snow
that never falls without warning, melts
in air that blows its frail breath back
to caress the Totonacans in their jungle.
3. El Sueno
I fall away and pool, dispersing. From here
I see only what is there. No buenavista posible.
The trees too high, too thick, and love it
or not, Leila Shulamit would be shimmering
and I pressing my body against hers, loving
what we have sought all this life, the words
to be said, the body, the face, the voice, touch
of our hands, our moist lips, our single breath.
She knows she is my final love. If she flees
to be here, she breaks her husband’s heart.
Wind follows rain in winter, crashes trees
and batters the walls of the doctor’s house.
We live in the cheapest hotel in the town,
or so I dream. Too old to make a baby.
There are no anthropologists staying here,
no tourists. We love all we want then sleep.
I continue to write half the night and all day
when she might be doing her life’s work
and because winter this year would be long
I dream we fill these arms that are empty.
If Leila and I live in Cuetzalan, above
the hubbub, the din of lies, the murders,
we know enough to be happy and stay
where we arrived, like this, loving . . .
Not that it will last. Nothing human lasts.
All I could do was come here and hope for
her brilliance to arrive, body and all, and
she does. From Puebla, all the perilous way
up the mountain, we are covered with kisses,
our bodies move like hands rising and falling.
We stop to pick flowers for a roadside grave,
she folds me in her arms, brings me to life.
How we reach the mountaintop. Dream we say
to each other all the words that have waited
to breathe. The six stories I climbed to get here
become my life. I dwell in the lines of her body.
(20-23 December 2010)
copyright 2010 by Floyce Alexander
[posted 23 December 2010]