I always like to tell the story of
hunting with my dad and brother-in-law
in the mountains the year we wandered up
–or was it down–to May’s working brothel.
We walked in, there she was sweeping the floor,
it was too early for her clientele,
she wore coveralls, "You guys like a trick?"
She could step out of her jump suit and fuck,
don’t take hardly no time to have some fun,
she said behind the bar pouring a round
telling us while we waited the story
of this guy she had a thing for, damn near
ran off and married, but stopped at the door
to tell him, Why should I? I like it here,
I’d just have to have a house of my own
in the middle of civilization
and I doubt I’d be appreciated
much less approved of by the townspeople . . .
She poured another round, found out my dad
was a county judge; No! You are?
I ain’t never sat in a judge’s lap . . .
came around the bar to make him happy.
May said bye and we left in time for rain
to turn into a downpour, had to stop
at a ranch, men huddled in a bunkhouse
said, Come on in, sit a spell till the rain
blows over, and we got to telling them
where we’d come from and the most talkative
ranch hand said he knew May in the old days
and asked her to marry, and she said yes
and his story was the same one she told . . .
He said he would never understand why.
Yet he still saved up his money and paid
her a call now she was there all alone:
I like to think nothing’s changed, but I know
she will never be happy anywhere
below. Me neither. You like to have fun
where nobody sits around judging you.
We passed a bottle around. The storm quit.
We left. Dad said he’d heard some sad stories,
my brother-in-law chimed in: This one’s worse
than sad. And all the way down the mountain
they talked about Mae and how happiness
never worked out the way you thought it would.
(loosely based on a reminiscence by Sam Peckinpah
in Paul Seydor, Peckinpah: The Western Films, 1980)
(13 April 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander