She said he was the first man since Frank left
for Mexico to bring back weed and was caught
and in jail down there–first man she’d seen
took her another place, even though she stayed
with the peacocks fanning out their plumage
in her dirt yard and painted with her little son
and two daughters in the back porch sunlight
next to Bonne Chance! River, which he waded
partly dressed one day to suddenly appear there
with his swarthy skin and black hair bearding,
What was he? she wondered, repeating a hello
startled out of her, he’d said he’d come by here
and here he was. She hoped he would stay . . .
How many years ago? Dios mio, too many
to remember. Now he was walking in the rain
fanning his jacket up over his head to stay dry,
even so got wet, was glad to knock on her door.
He knew she was home, her pickup in the yard.
He knocked again. Judy came to the door, eyes
lighting up with his: they were going back . . .
He caught himself, she said Come in. He did.
He sat. She talked. He answered. Her son gone,
a painter like his mother only he was painting,
living in Brooklyn. Her two daughters married
to wild men whose wild hairs kept them happy
as long as they stayed home and under the sheets,
she said. She was the real California, Judy was.
Where was Frank? She didn’t know. He wrote
when they let him out, and must be dealing dope
–damn him! too daredevil not to, shoulda learned
but no, Frank never learned, but sure could love
. . . and who was the man in her life now? You,
she teased. Hubbard’s name came up. Was he
visiting from Nebraska when his crop came in?
Like the old days . . . Juan waiting outside and
Hubbard quipping, Get in line, she takes forever.
No, she said. He’s here. Why do you think I stay?
I was going to Oregon, remember? Twenty years
are long ago and far away, I don’t do what I did
back there. I stopped smoking weed, drinking
anything but coffee and tea. Can I offer you tea?
They had camomile and he told her why he was
living here. She wanted to read what he wrote.
She always did. He even wrote in her presence
and read it aloud as he was satisfied with it . . .
She laughed about him writing on her body
as she sat on the rock dipping her toes in water
and wishing he would let her try loving him,
but he never did, nor did she say she desired
to have him open her flower and look around
slowly satisfying his curiosity which she’d feel
like a stamen with a pistil. So they were friends
only, their bodies still strange to one another.
Senor Flores, she said, kissing him, I want
what I can’t have: wanted it then, it’s too late,
I’m an old lady now and you and your beauty
are happy, why would we want to fuck, still?
Maybe it’s better with age, he quipped, with
one you missed the first time around, say . . .
He drank his tea, she offered him another
and he wanted to kiss her, caress her skin,
but no, she said, No, not now, maybe never.
(27 April 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander