Finally he got tired of saying no to himself.
He found her not far up the road from where they lived
as children, though they were late teenagers when they met.
The same dusty streets with tumbleweeds when the wind blew.
She lived in a small house on the edge of town. Her children played,
in the streets, she said. Nothing ever happened then. Now she locked
her doors. Where’s your husband? He died. You’re a widow then? Twice,
she said. My children’s father was killed in Vietnam, I always wondered why
we didn’t marry. Was he good to you? No, Juan, I mean you. After all the years
of missing you, I told her, I began to ask myself why this white boy went to the city
and loved it so well he lost his beloved. She said she went there alone now. I love to be
lost there. I said, Would you go with me? When? Now! Yes, let me pack a bag, then off
we will go, two lovers, she laughed. This would be our first time together happy in Seattle.
My first city had changed, I knew only the lakes and the Sound, some of the downtown.
I needed no map, I had Irene, as beautiful as ever, now a grown woman, souvenirs
of her children in the stretch marks of the belly I licked to smell her love musk
I missed too long. We let ourselves go, in no time were back to being young.
Her taste I savored with a tongue that bore her body’s tattoo. How loved
we were, each one our first touch of the forbidden, black hair gray now,
our thighs awash with the years we had given away, but filled now
with that ocean of sky we lay under in the Olympic Hotel.
We went to Alki. On the sand I read to her our passages
from Shakespeare, an old ritual still without a stage.
Our bodies would be stained from our lovemaking
the way we wished, small keepsake for a lifetime
until the big wave, to share the one-way sleep.
(7 April 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander