Friday, February 11, 2011

A New Orleans Full of Ghosts

The man behind the desk Juan’s never seen.
When it’s night the neon HOT for HOTEL
lights the street so far off the tourist track.
The man doesn’t know if there is a room
for two. Juan says he expects his woman
to arrive and he wants to find a room
early on. The man takes his name, Johnny
Flowers, and address, Adore’s little house
not far from here, and offers Paolo’s
address as backup. The man writes it all.
Check back in a day, I’ll be working here,
the man assures him. See you then, Flowers.
Juan walks off asking himself the question
obvious to any man whose heart weeps
when it’s broken open, not like the heart
opening to let love in and keep it
safe from harm. He knows she will never come.
Adore keeps saying Maria will come.
He keeps saying there’s nothing to come for
here that she wouldn’t find better up there.
Adore is like Maria asking why
he gives up hope and buries it early
like someone still breathing, asking for love
and nothing else but lips and a body
and her voice telling you she will love you
until your flesh goes into the oven
and comes out bones and ashes, beloved
still though she knows she must care for herself
as always, from the time she was seven
in the shadows of that house without doors
to hold her father’s rage, her mother’s pain
and at such an age she worked for others
and when she was paid she went to the store
and brought home food for her sister, brother,
and herself and they ate while father snored
and mother slept. Ten years passed and she left
for good or ill, it didn’t matter, she
was gone. Adore knows the story. She groaned,
such a father to drive his children mad
holding a gun with one bullet in it
to her temple and squeezing the trigger,
and then her sister, her brother the same . . .
The crippled man who loved her taught her love.
She was seventeen, he thirty-seven;
all this a story Juan had heard before
he first heard it, told it here to Adore,
who thought of Ira again and how love
can come upon you all of a sudden
and leave the same way, but never over
even when a body gives up its ghost.

(11 February 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

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