Driving north over the Golden Gate
Juan remembered feeling the hollow
opening somewhere inside him
that summer he first felt the taste
of what was coming with Betty.
Barker was driving, he was in back,
Lew was in the passenger seat,
they were talking about photography
and children, their specialties,
and he was mourning long before
the fact. And when he was here
in winter, the girl with her little body
insisting he take her the night before
Betty arrived, and so he did, or she
did, they did the beast with two backs,
old-timers called it, and next evening
the girl was gone for the duration
of Betty’s visit, her return to see how
he was with her and she with him,
and in bed she said, I don’t know why
but I don’t want to fuck with you.
He knew why but said nothing.
You know the rest, dear reader,
the call about the hysterectomy,
later her saying she had a child
in her womb by another man,
then went to the Virgin Islands
to teach, then she was in Sausalito
and now he drove straight to see
Judy Ewing, who welcomed him
and kissed him and let him feel her
body against his, his cock stirring
in its little nest, beginning to thrum
the blood rising hardening the skin
between his legs, like the old days
of warmer climates, where the rain
did not fall so much as hover overhead.
She led him to the dinner table
and there is no point in going on
with this until she had her Chardonnay,
he sipped his ice water with lemon,
and she told him she was Hubbard’s
now. He’s my old man, she put it,
dating herself as a relic of the sixties.
He’s your husband? Might as well be,
she replied. He keeps me to himself.
Remember I was moving to Oregon?
Hubbard happened by and changed
my plans. I figured if a man like him
wanted a woman like me, what could
we lose? I’ve never been married–
three bastard children by an outcast
mother. But you know that already . . .
Dear reader, what on earth can I say
without the axis tipping off point
a hair and changing the seasons so . . .
I could have gone back to my old ways.
But why devour the rest of my life
with the cannibal feasting inside . . .
Why die? Drove home, Cathleen’s.
Called her. Wanted to talk to love’s
echo. Told her so. I hear what you say
in your sleep, I said. She was silent,
but spoke with a smile in her voice
then: Don’t you ever say you don’t love
me, now that we are together again
and in California, where I blossomed
and want you to bloom, your little cock
like a wedge in my cunt, I love you, you
menace to my sanity, I didn’t want to
love you, you frighten me still, but why
I cannot decide, you have it all, Johnny
Flowers, all I want in a man, that’s why.
When they ended the call, he stayed
on the big bed filling the living room.
He was happy. He had the Irish woman
forever, she said. Someday she would
stop painting her nails, cut her hair short,
her breasts would sag but seem to grow
and excite his cock until it strained to be
beyond its skin, full of blood, tumescent
as the reader knows, seeking detumescence
and entering her olive skin with his tree
flowering and hers rooting it in her soil.
(7 May 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander