Surrounded by Baptists and snake charmers,
his mother and her mother and
her mother’s mother fled the South!
South of Roanoke, Blacksburg, Virginia . . .
down through Tennessee, Missouri,
into western Arkansas they arrived.
Her mother’s mother survived on her own.
Missouri to Oklahoma, mistress
to a brothel, post office, only wife
to Floyd Smith, fisherman from Alaska.
Her mother’s dark gifts entertained Europe,
ending in L.A., hating blacks and jews
–no wonder his mother loved his father
beyond all notions of amor, and mourned
his death a long while before Mexico . . .
only once Honolulu, Seattle,
New England, all America was out
of her, surviving another Manuel,
his heart too full of love for her to last,
and in New Orleans she ran a house
in the best European tradition . . .
Baptists were not as bad as snake charmers,
Mama Nell/Madame Doll told her three sons,
and taught her daughter to learn a man’s ways.
So whadya know, Johnny Flowers?
Down South they call you Juan Flores.
Why don’t you settle for, simply, Flowers?
Juan has learned to take his time making love.
He never did fare well with fast women.
He loves to remain inside a woman
until she glides with him into motion,
thrust then pause, thrust, pause, and on into night
at last pouring into her all he has
contained, when the moon turns into the sun
. . . gotta love a woman so much she goes
along with no complaint from either you
or her, like the moon makes love to the sun
all night and into the morning
when eighty-one thrusts exceed one hundred.
Still, there was the lighthearted great-grandma,
the shrew grandmother, so where did he come
from? if not from both sides of his mama /
madame? she with resilience from Mama Allie,
who said, I wasn’t in that business long . . .
Our origins two generations back?
Little did Juan know of father Manuel,
who came from hard-scrabble cotton and coal.
got out of the South by going to war,
and died. His grandfather left Virginia
to flee the law. Fort Smith was the wildest
territory, he and his brothers heard,
hideout for far worse than they, who stayed
out of sight. Sunday mornings they scouted
the countryside for a place to settle.
(22 May 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander