With Maria Teresa and Adore
there is much to do.
As is said in New Orleans,
you have a drink to decide what to do.
Juan doesn’t drink (not that he never did),
and he used to eat too much to keep down.
Now he eats what Adore cooks, nothing more.
One meal a day, if that. If she’s feeling
poorly he fends for himself. He can cook.
He fixes her broth and she feels better.
They sit together hearing the music
from down the street, the Cajun Crawl it’s called.
Tourists go there to slum: It’s in the dark,
Cajun music is all they want to play.
It sells. The neighborhood can dance to it.
Better than nothing, Adore declares.
In daylight it’s St. James Infirmary,
Careless Love, C. C. Rider, St. Louis Blues
by an ensemble that puts her in mind of
Ira’s. "I painted my nails black and blue
because my skin was light brown verging on
being coal black in parts you couldn’t see.
The blue was from ‘What did I do to be
so black and blue.’ It may have been a song
but it was one of the first ones I heard
and how old was I? Old enough to know
what being black and blue was for women
who loved men, sung by one who loved women
or soon learned to." That was how Adore talked.
Starting with something physical, painting
the nails of her toes and fingers, then on
to a disquisition on race the way
you saw yourself in the midst of turmoil
that only the music could answer to
catch your life, turn it right side up, set it
on its feet, go walking, dancing, make love
in your head the way your body would do
if ever that sweet man would come over . . .
or that other one, he was okay too.
What does a girl do when she’s all grown up?
Where does all she is come from? She looks up.
He asks her who her daddy, mama were,
She says, I don’t know who anybody was,
honey, I loved only the nobodys . . .
(12 February 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander