Juan Flores loved women and loved flowers
and he loved both in a state of wildness.
He knew Adore would bring the bird back home
and when her mother was gone let it fly
from room to room following to make sure
it didn’t encounter an obstacle.
Why she told him this was to let him know
she believed birds and animals were worth
their weight and ought to be mollycoddled,
even nurtured as nature did not need
to be but she knew responded to her
like she was one of their species. She told
how she liked to take the bird in its cage
to town and let it listen to music
on streetcorners. The bird seemed to respond,
hopping delightedly to the brisk ones,
balancing itself with both wings spread out
to the slow ones. But that was all the bird
liked in the city of New Orleans,
Adore said to Juan matter-of-factly . . .
I got to liking boys and took one there.
The house seemed to welcome both of us in.
The breeze blowing the dust off the curtains
soothed the fever between us and we slept
separately without any need to touch.
The bird was with me in the cage I built,
I found two gardenias and pushed them
through the little door I had constructed
back home. The boy thought I was good at that.
He said I should learn how to grow flowers.
I told him I liked only wild flowers.
The wilds were the only things worth having.
I wanted to be wild all my born days,
I said, almost raising my voice to him,
watching him shrinking back from an assault.
I know I’m talking like a fancy pants:
I was in love with birds and wild flowers
and I needed to tell somebody that.
Now, honey, fuck me and take all the sass
out of my restless and passionate soul.
Adore called Juan honey. Who was that boy?
Juan asked. I don’t know, Adore said. He was
a kid liked to follow me up one street
to the next. That day I took him with me
to the house was the last time I saw him.
He said he wanted to stay. I walked back.
And nobody even knew who he was
because I asked around if they had seen him.
I wondered if the house sent its wild sounds
out of the dark to make him their captive.
I thought he might have fallen in the swamp.
I went back to the house without the bird.
There I found his clothes strewn from room to room.
I guess they were his. They were the right size.
I bundled them up and took them back home
and showed them around on the streets for days.
Nobody could remember seeing them.
Going everywhere I knew folks to ask,
I gave up. I took the clothes back. Next time
out there the doors were open, the clothes gone.
(5 March 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander