The Sanskrit word for "it vanished." It did.
Adore arose one morning. She said, No,
no use making something out of nothing.
That’s all she said. She went to the kitchen.
Suddenly, it seemed, he had a hard time
walking, was limping, almost took a fall,
’righted himself in time, balanced himself,
ears ringing, feeling vertigo come on . . .
He sat down on a bench in Jackson Square.
People were coming in and going out
of the church. He fell asleep on the bench.
A cop came up and poked him till he woke.
He stood. His head reeled. What was happening?
He was a ways off from Adore’s. He did
not know where to go. He was alright then.
His head cleared up. He would walk upriver.
Where did he think he was? What port was this?
He began staggering more than walking.
He found a bench. Someone came up and asked
if he was all right, and could they help him.
He asked them to take him to the doctor.
The hospital of the poor, he called it,
like the one in Chihuahua where the burn
victim, penniless, was returned to life.
Up here he might sit for hours quietly
unless he raised his voice and the cops came,
so he didn’t. He sat and he waited,
after thanking the person who was a blur.
He fell off to sleep, head swirling at first
then nothing, until a nurse awoke him,
led him to a room where he waited still
longer. He was where he could sleep, at least.
In his dream he was looking everywhere
for her. When he saw a woman 5'4
he pursued her until she called a cop,
whereupon he fled, waiting to see her
black hair grow as far as her dark shoulders,
listening for her to begin speaking
and couldn’t help himself, he was in love
but if he were with her he would die soon,
though at least he knew he would die happy,
turning a corner and there she appeared
taking his hand and saying, It’s okay,
honey, you just got lost back there somewhere.
The nurse woke him, the doctor checked him out.
It would take days to find out, but he did,
going back and back, sleeping at Adore’s,
listening to her footfalls in the dark.
A week went by that way. She said nothing.
After the last test, he brought back the pills
and took one. She asked him what that was for.
My heart, he said. I am going to die.
Not before me! she laughed. How could you die
with so much left undone, hardly started,
years of work ahead of you left undone
if you don’t get started. Take some water.
One side of his heart was pumping too much
blood to fill the reservoir, spill over
but not flooding, just a river running
along until it came to the same dam.
Gotta keep my blood thin, he said. She said
Ira died from a stroke. He didn’t take
his medicine, thought he might as well go
and leave me here with a lighter burden.
Trouble is, she said, love ain’t no burden.
He went to sleep again. In the same dream
everything was in past tense now, the clouds
moved backwards, out of the sky to the void.
That Sanskrit word, adhvanit, came up
as high as it had to to make it rain,
and there she was again, that gamine smile,
her soothing words, the flesh he could not touch.
(24 January 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander