He came from where water spilling over
was a sign the country was in good health.
He learned to swim jumping from a high place
into a pool his brothers said was deep
enough to let him find the bottom
but not so deep a body would not find
the surface again. River spilled over
a falls where you could walk and sit all day.
The Blue Ridge. Mountains you could see as far
as your eyes took you, standing up as high
as you could find the top of the highest
mountain close enough to home to get there
and back. And the rest of it, why he came
to New Orleans she would hear later.
For now, she taught him to love her, her way.
He didn’t let no chicken foot stop him.
She let him gather her up in his arms
and carry her through the open doorway
touching nothing that would bring them bad luck,
how she made sure the loas were quiet.
She had her ways. He didn’t need to ask
to know what she was, why she was that way,
why any of it had a thing to do
with him. It was no stranger to mountains,
just came from another place, that was all,
and what didn’t have to start from somewhere?
She talked about it like it was human.
She still did. Juan heard the same thing Ira
came to believe was all they ever had
in common, what Adore did not call love.
(31 January 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander