bluster that’s a sign centaurs’ years pass too,
indelibly. Listening to the Stones,
recalling her Waikiki surfer’s glide,
the only woman asked you for children
and, sperm dry, you left her with your Bible,
as she also requested. You pranced home
and were hobbled until Honolulu
arrived in the body of an old flame
whose seed sowed her with child. She disappeared
taking her prize, that book of yours, for keeps.
Last thing she said: He’s coming to see me.
Seeing her years later in the small town
near the vineyard, now gone, where you were reared,
she led a small child, a son, by the hand
halfway through the crosswalk, looked up and stopped
to stare at you, unsmiling, feeling . . . what?
With Cathleen riding beside you, why say
hello or goodbye? The light changed. She loped
to the other side, showing her son legs
to follow. And where was her son’s father?
You didn’t need to know: He might be gone.
You used to think of her as Emily
Dickinson with attitude, fiery hair
that would never turn gray or white, or fall
to a floor so shiny you saw centaurs
when it was you staring. Gallop off, man:
Studs were born to run faster than the mares.
Crossing cities, centaur, age thirty-three,
grazing along the coast highway, unshod,
your human half riding, The End so loud
Morrison had the top down, salt from off
the sea misting your gaze . . . the beast who killed
its sire on the bridal path to the gate
the monster will not open until you
whinny in answer to its riddle: Man,
and enter the city walking like one
whose brittle being lies dashed on the rocks
below. Here you are animal enough.
Inside the palace your mother takes you
to her bed. Without issue, legend blinds.
At the northern end of the coast highway,
Half Moon Bay, step inside and there she is,
pouring coffee, serving breakfast, her pout
turned to smile, her beauty mark become scar,
and no longer recognizes who you
might have been with her, neither Jocasta
nor Emily, not widow or spinster,
but mother to a colt you never made
obediently pursuing her tracks.
You pay, she rings it up, her eyes hold yours
as though asking, Do I know you? Yours say,
It's too late now to know me as a man.
You shake your mane free of shoulders whose bones
grow aslant returning the horse-half home.
Utter nothing until she says something
you may nod yes to after years of no.
Loud silence ends. Songs end. Will the next dance
be slower, befitting aging centaurs
who sleep tonight among manzanita . . .
(14 May 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander