He could make dreams come true if he wanted.
Adore told him this over all the days
remaining to her. He could not have been
with anyone more akin to his dreams.
Not like a mother, not like a sister,
not like a lover, more like a wise friend,
though if she were younger and he older
she would have been all he ever wanted–
a wise friend who was also his lover.
Therefore he envied Ira in his urn.
Ira, who stole his three brothers’ money
and rode south, Memphis to New Orleans,
and met Adore in the same bar he played
and could keep all he earned passing the hat.
She was a tall black woman with long hair,
Ira said at the kitchen table once
that was the last time Juan saw him alive
and never did see him dead, in his urn
bones and ashes Adore wanted kept there.
Ira looked straight at her out in the crowd,
and she was already staring at him.
As simple as when the music ended
she never left him as long as he lived,
redneck white boy from southwest Virginia
fleeing south with his fugitive brothers
one of whom murdered a black man in town
because he taunted his brother in town
when the three of them went into Woolwine
to sell their sorghum. Ira never went
with them, he wanted to practice his horn.
When they returned with black blood on their hands,
and their mother gave them baskets of food
and the horses were saddled, fed, watered,
and had three men astride their backs, the fourth
was for him. He caught up with them later,
just as he would rob them and be the first
to go farther south while they would go west.
In the first and only city he’d known,
he told her the tale of smalltown murder,
the reason he robbed them to come down here
and find her, with whom he never parted.
Juan listened until Ira went silent.
Adore came in and said, Let’s go to bed.
She never called him honey or darling,
her love was all in the tone of her voice.
Now she told him she had this dream she dreamed
more than once or twice because she wanted
to keep on dreaming she had found the man
custom made, it seemed, for his horn’s mouthpiece
–and she had to laugh, what a thing to say!
She did her version of what she called dream,
pretty soon there he was playing the horn
as though it issued from his very lips.
She offered to teach Juan how he could dream
the same dream over and over again,
as long as you had to to find what lived
out here once it no longer slept in you.
(25 January 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander