The laws of nature. Adore knew them all.
How rain was harnessed to the ocean.
The way the sun moved over the river.
The horses, creatures feeding on her breath.
Smoldering ashes we were all made of.
The color of blood the fire licked and fed
poor things, the living and the dead, the weak
and the strong, whatever moved inside her
and made her own blood flow like a slow creek
that delta’d the high grass in the bayou
and let her sleep the sleep of the griots.
Whose stories kept her up nights as a child.
Filled her dreams with fables of a lost world.
The laws she knew were like nobody’s laws.
Juan wrote all this without thinking he knew
what lay behind words whose meanings he knew
were lost to him and would go forever
when she left her body to the furnace.
Adore told him Ira’s story, his story
laced with the language of a lost village
harbored by mountains, occupied by owls
and the big cats the people called panthers.
Ira had lived the life of a lost soul
finding himself only in this city,
and then only in music and her arms,
her dark skin against his, white boy come south
to get brown and learn how to play the blues
with men whose lips filled the night with sorrow.
They lived touching, one inside the other
when their blood was roused, but mostly gentle
caresses, a tenderness like flowers
whose beauty flowed up from their own deep roots.
There would be no children, they were too old.
She was unwanted. Her mother taught her
everything she knew now when the back door
was open as long as it took the sun,
the wind, the rain, the heat to come inside
where her aging, glistening body sat
awaiting her friends whose spurs dug her flanks
and reared her aloft on her own two feet,
the candles flickering as her sweat dripped
to feed the hunger of their orange flames.
(22 February 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander