Reader, you may be thinking Adore and Anne
were having a lesbian affair. Well, who is Juan–
who am I–to ask? Their love life’s their business,
even if New Orleans may as well be another name
for Lesbos, as well as nearly every other town
in estados unidos, Northampton por ejemplo.
When I lived in Northampton Cathleen talked
about the IRA and what should be done about
the bastard Brits. I wrote to ask for employment
in Ulster to be there at the peeling of the orange,
otherwise teaching in the University of Belfast.
This London renegade suggested I see for myself.
He was in Massachusetts to write of Huck Finn’s
politics. In his eyes the falling-down drunkard’s
son was waiting to ride the bullet train out of
Finland straight for Moscow to oust Kerensky.
I never went to Ireland. He thought Russia was
"the territory ahead." I said Huck’s a redneck,
I oughta know, I am one. Still, he wished me luck.
Adore told me Anne had a great blues voice after
learning so quickly yet so long how to host loas.
Being a madame’s son you learned a lot no other
kind of kid ever did. Mama Nell slept with Peggy,
who inherited her brothel: a little like succession.
Adore and Anne shared one problem . . . Ira.
Anne was the first to love him, even before Ira
got the job at the bar whose name remains
its own business, being frequented by habitues
like stevedores, like Ira was, but by few tourists.
Ira learned to love Anne and she loved him . . .
Ira began playing and Anne was still singing
in the bar his first night on the bandstand.
Adore saw him right off and that night began
their love that lasted even longer than Ira,
and when I arrived Adore must have thought
since I was his grand nephew I was a lover
with cojones evolved all the way down the line.
Adore taught me more than any woman could.
Adore, old enough to carry me in her womb.
I asked her once if she knew my mother.
She said, Should I? My people were first
to sell sex, but surely you already know that.
I said, I may know it but I don’t remember.
I look in your eyes, they’re the same color
as mine, I’m even as tall as you, who’d know
we weren’t from the same family, look who
you lived with, may even have married . . .
That’s when I found out Ira was married,
to Anne. That I wanted to know more about,
my mother also Irish. Being a mama was all
she wanted until there was too little money.
She was always a businesswoman, even when
Manuel farmed before the goddam war began.
Where did Anne go once you got sweet on Ira
and he left her and took up with you, or is that
what happened? She said that was long after
Anne learned how to open herself to the loas.
Her heart may have been broken, but she knew
that was no reason to bite the hand helping
make her blues only bluer, deeper than the sky.
She stayed then? No, she went to Tipitina’s.
Anne moved up the line, is still going strong.
Ira might have thought we knew each other,
but never said a word. I thought he stayed
married to her, and he did. Anne told me so
at his grave, weeping before the second line.
(8 June 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander