I punched in, my time card full, a smile lit
the wall, Jorgenson said, punching out.
I remembered he said I was happy
to be working. I asked him, Who isn’t?
I remembered this, walking the highway back
to Cathleen’s house. Judy Ewing was there
waiting. I invited her in, We embraced.
(I can already see what you could be thinking,
my dear reader . . . Here comes another love
affair! We will see, I hope you are right:
Judy Ewing is, indeed, an old flame!)
She went outside, it was dry, while I called
Cathleen. There was no answer. The message
machine took my request. She would call back,
I told Judy, who said Hubbard was gone
back to Nebraska. I thought he moved here,
I said. His product is still there, she said.
How ’bout Monday or Tuesday? She said, No
(I don’t remember why, I didn’t add
anything, I remember that.) Wednesday,
then. I’ll make dinner, she proposed. Bring me
a bottle of Chardonnay. She left then.
I went upstairs. Dusk. The birds were singing . . .
I remembered the factory, the goddam
boredom. Once you learn the job, you go on
auto pilot, a robot: what’s coming
down the line . . . I changed the subject inside
my head. I wrote something called Down the Road.
I showed it to Cathleen next day. She had
my car in tow: I hate automatic
shift, she said. She said she hated the piece
of writing, she loathed Lapsinky. I said
you had to know the guy. She said, No thanks,
I hate commies who say they have no choice . . .
We went to dinner, thick juicy sirloin
done to perfection, she marveled, gleaming,
and I already dreaming of fucking.
We went home, her house, and drank and smoked dope.
I remember only her body’s touch . . .
Sunday I drove her back. That afternoon
we made love on California Street, time
after time as in the old days, married . . .
I couldn’t get the guy out of my mind
who took her from me, why she divorced me
to marry him and he wouldn’t, said she
oughta let him pimp her . . . That’s like marriage,
he insisted. She never spoke of it
again. We made love as though he had not
existed, but I knew he was somewhere
here. I didn’t like to think about that.
She cooked, we had hash and eggs. What a cook
you are! and I always say what I mean . . .
She had to get up early tomorrow.
Sunday night in the City, I went to see
El Topo at a revival house packed
with aging hippies. The castration scene
still got to me, I forced myself to watch
knowing what was coming was no more tame
in its way, why I loved Jodorowsky,
though I still had not been able to watch
his film whose hero is without arms, the real thing
or so it seemed to have convinced others.
I always wanted to know why a mole
was this guy’s choice of sobriquet. He saw
everything from the bottom up, I thought
must be the reason. I would ask Tony,
he never missed a revival screening.
Before I slept tonight, I wrote a piece
I eventually called Tres Marias . . .
Say your son
Left his mother’s cameo
Under five fingers of wet sand
In the Sierras.
You would kneel by his side
Like an acolyte, some John
of the Desert,
Tempted but impervious to taunts,
Flesh that once thrust
Silken beneath your loins,
And say Tres Marias
Slowly as dry sand
Drifting over the Desert
Thronging the Sierras
Where bodies slant through
The wind, where women cry
Out of the red night
Suffering thrust upon thrust
From their savage husbands,
Weeping for their pale stillborn.
Of course my son will be sent away.
I will send him away. Everything
Is style. My son will wear rags
And I black leather down to poncho
And holster. Crossing the Desert,
Bandit country filled with soldiers,
Horse nods under sun, a steady gait.
Where are we going, my son asks.
We are heading home, son. Yours,
You never gasp at blood
Mixing with mud in the watering place.
Horse nickers, neighs. No one has
Enough style. All try for more:
The General, for example, fucking his
Franciscan novitiate, sending her dazed
From the hut, smiling as his soldiers
Abuse her, slowly.
Once he was down,
My hand slid without thought to the blade.
The blood between his legs sprayed,
Spattering my face. As my son sat
The still horse.
Too proud to stay
Alive, sand spilling all ways,
Filling the hooves of the horses,
We come to a place
There’s no going back from,
No going beyond,
Where a woman, like you
Succulent as oasis,
Girds your loins as I
Ride on, sick of heart, sick of sun.
Soon we will reach the bridge
Of rope I walk, while
You try to push my body
Through frail strands, your lover
Waiting with a knife
On the other side.
I cross. Hand poises
Blade’s scarf. Throat tingles
With air. Body doesn’t fall
Until sun shivers my eyes.
. . . There. . . . I got it right by dawn, many
hours gone by. It came from my first viewing,
1982: Cathleen was ready
to move out to a place of her own,
where she took calls inside her apartment,
guys Willie checked out at the Radisson
Hotel bar, calling her then to tell her,
Be ready. (Reader, you know the story:
she did it a month, called off the marriage . . .
O yes, did I tell you we were divorced?)
(4 May 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander