Ira was twenty years older. She was
fifteen when it happened. You love young
you never forget. She had no reason
to forget. She never met any man
would make her do that. And she looked around,
she said: I was old for my age. Mama
said I was the spitting image of her,
the way I flounced, sashayed, and tempted men
once the month came around to nudge the moon
and make my blood flow. No man ever knew
what Ira knew, to make my body purr
and moan, nothing could be the same again . . .
Why did he have to up and die on me?
O sometimes I didn’t want to go on
once I knew there was nothing up ahead . . .
Juan listened. He wrote what he heard her say.
He knew they would never be the same words.
She smiled when he told her words on paper
bleached out in the sun. What she said would go
away then. He would have to remember
not only what she said but how she said
and what the sound was inside her voices,
the only octaves that the left hand played
and not very far up the right hand’s scale.
She got a kick out of her husband’s kin.
If she were younger she would make a move
and catch him up the way Ira found her
not only that first night but all the nights
thereafter. Even in her eighties now
she knew how to dream like her young girl’s ghost.
(3 February 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander