for Lisa Alvarado, in memory of Rifka
As though there were a choice, she says,
I’m standing where I was born
albeit with Rifka present.
I’m not wearing my cocktail dress
nor hand-me-downs nor even rags.
I'm not even busking without buskins.
I’m happy being in the sun,
though I need to learn to play violin
or Spanish guitar
and have a horse waiting on the corner
to mount to ride to Mexico.
It might take years then to rhyme cocktail dress
with horse. Rifka’s people learned tragedy
in Spain in 1492. Rifka never was
in Spain, certainly not in 1956
when I suddenly appeared here
where Juan could never find me even if
he knew how to read a map. He would come
on a whim he might find me. He gets lost
in Chicago. Better he stay
in New Orleans. Rifka would (Adore says)
if she had not learned tragedy in Chicago.
Juan must think I don’t know where he lives now
(Maria Teresa replies). I do
know nothing about busking for money
and may be too old to learn. The mind needs
a body to stay alive . . .
If this is a dream, Adore, wake me up
and we will walk down the street for beignets
and café au lait and see what’s shaking
where only the poor pay for the music
and tourists anoint musicians with air.
Come here, Adore says, and live in my house.
(9 February 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander