Now he thought of the people Carlos knew.
Colin and Marie, he was all but dead
and she wanted to die alongside him.
Colin’s ticker beat on and she took care
he took his pills, ate the proper diet,
and she took him to bed to get the sleep
he needed to have energy to move
after years of sitting still, running down . . .
It depressed him to remember them now.
Thinking of Colin resembled looking
in a mirror. It bummed him to look there
and think of going out into the street
and seeing himself wasted like the drunk
he was. Two beers and that was all it took:
He was swearing off and he would get by
being with Betsy’s naked blonde body.
She woke and walked into his room
and kissed his ear, and he thought of Colin
waking too sapped of life to fuck Marie
and she offered him pleasure with her lips.
Betsy obviously was doing the same.
She said, I ought to get paid, I’m so good,
and laughed, staying up to catch a long breath.
Come down to the kitchen and eat.
Carlos loved Colin and Marie. They loved
him back. Old soldiers never let buddies
down, they keep on knowing them for life
or, with Carlos gone, for as long as death
kept vigil awaiting the samsara
to come wheeling by and this time stopping
to carry you into the next short life,
but how did you know which one was karma?
Betsy fixed them gumbo with dirty rice.
She said it seemed bland today but filling.
He said it was fine. He asked how her night
had gone. She pulled a wad of bills from her
brassiere. She liked to brag without saying . . .
She stuffed them back between her breasts and pulled
her kimono closed. He asked her about
spending the day with him and she said, Sure.
They walked all the way to Tchoupitoulas,
he wanted to tell her about Ira
and his wife Adore. The place was called now,
inexplicably, Ira and Adore’s.
He bought an Old Fashioned that Betsy sipped
while he drank water with chipped ice sloshing
over the edge of his glass but slowly
so as not to finish before she did.
Ira brought his horn down here and Adore
stood while he played and commanded the room.
Betsy asked about her and he told her
Adore was a gris-gris woman, Lilith
not Eve: How could she be, not being white?
Betsy laughed, Does that make me Eve? If so,
Juan, does that make you Adam and still Juan?
He laughed and never reached who Lilith was.
They stayed at the table. A trio played
all the way through its repertoire, and then
the drummer soloed, the man with the horn
played a long riff, and the bass walked away
before they came back together and did
the rest of Careless Love. They listened close,
Betsy mouthing the words, Juan leaning close
so he could hear what she wanted to sing.
His day would be very slow from now on.
To shake Colin and Marie from his thoughts
he was here. The music was not as good
as in Ira’s day, and he knew Adore
made the music swing without any help
from the loas. You had to go back where
she came from to learn what the loas did
and how. How you dance, what you do to walk
out the door after all the music’s through,
her hips sashaying against Ira’s . . . move
through the dark to the light that was their house.
Betsy asked how Adore had got her name,
and Juan said Ira had come up with it,
it was the name of his feeling for her,
and Betsy asked what Juan would call her now,
and he suggested they walk somewhere else.
He called her She Whom He Shared with Others.
She thought that name was too long. Try again.
He said, Body Belonging to Others.
She said he was stuck, he shifted into low
and tried this one: Baby with Her Blonde Cunt
Spilling Money out of Her Black Brassiere.
She said no and he went back to Betsy.
That was how they spent the day together.
That was why they would never get along.
He knew the woman he wanted and thought
of her while he excused himself to write
the rest of the day and into the night.
Maybe she would bring his stuff in person.
Maybe she missed him much like he missed her.
Maybe it was love after all the years
he never knew her, she never knew him.
That was what some said: You wait long enough,
the world comes around, galaxies flicker,
men die a little more each day women
wait for them to get out of their system
shooting stars, asteroids, planets, the works,
and soon here comes samsara one more time . . .
She says, Wait, I have a life to give you
that’s rain on your skin and sun in your eyes.
(18 January 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander