Part of him did not like who he was now.
The other part had never cared for him.
They were not equal, any more than sin
replaces goodness. He could be untrue,
God knew, having experienced the way
Juan grew from boy to a man happy
to feel all the new things within himself,
cataracts of joy, ecstatic rewards . . .
You were young when you saw the horses mate.
Now that you are old you know how that feels,
but you are never happy to know that
this is all, these years, all the surprises
that do not last. They no longer surprise
once you know you cannot change anything.
The mysteries remain, but not the songs.
Trample the grass, watch it turn sere, then burn.
We have no way of listening to God,
say what you will. The devil has his tongue.
That is why God is silent, can’t be seen
save by madmen, fallen women, babies,
greed merchants who offer nothing the priest
can use. Priest who takes a child’s innocence
because he seeks to undo what was done
to him when he was gulled by innocence.
What was Juan now? What would Adore say now?
Would she go on with her need to teach him
how to love? Or would she send him away
once he confessed he was grateful to her
for love no one on earth had given him . . .
She might say, Thank you, after the next time.
He hated himself. He called Chicago,
lost nerve, hung up, dialed again and listened
to the phone ring until the ringing stopped.
The kid came in, ordered drinks for his friends,
the man with the file, the man who could drive
but could do nothing else and was ashamed.
The kid asked about Adore. Did Juan want
him there tonight? No, stay in the hotel.
We will drive to Baton Rouge then, swamp fish
by moonlight. They would stay out of trouble
that way, for once, they knew all the jails well.
Juan gave them one for the road: Good riddance.
(26 February 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander