What was it like? Who could say? He could not.
When she woke he would ask her what it was,
not what it was like, or fiddle with words
to make a music only he could hear . . .
He sat in the day room, on the day bed,
getting the day together to live through.
He lay down now that he heard a stirring
from her room, body rising from the bed.
The sound was like ivy or dahlias
or bougainvillea, or the acacia
tree promised Paula and never given . . .
but most like peonies Maria loves . . .
The sound of her waking stayed with colors
that were green and red and all the colors
between the sun and water , all the hues
graced with a fluency of roots changing
and in his not-so-old memory here
where music was coming in from the street,
brisk, up-tempo, swinging, you couldn’t see
the second line if you didn’t look out
a window or door, he had no notion
what she was doing, was she even there?
It’s better than the dirge, he heard himself
wanting to say and get it all over
with her, follow the Mississippi up
to Cairo, follow the tributaries
to her city. This city was so old
you could die here. You could just up and die
and she would never know, and she did care . . .
how could she help but care in Chicago?
(6 February 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander