The man who enters the street nears his end.
All his life he has loathed the living dead.
The flame inside him will die now. He falls.
Odd, he dreams, you will die in a city
when all of youth was lived in the country.
To listen to his soul, its love-language
whose words welled and burst like a glad flower,
he walked so many miles he could not count.
The lithe brown-skinned girl with mole on one cheek
found him when he came down off the mountain.
She taught him to ride her as he had learned
to swing one leg, not the other, over
the back of a beast when he was little,
only she knew so many ways to ride
for the first time but said she did not know
what she was doing any more than he . . .
Irene. He would leave her in the country
and walk the city when he was awake
stopping only to start conversations
he heard listening never talking save
to lead the other back to the water,
the blue air of the Pacific Ocean
Sound filling the eye as it glides over
ruins that are all of America
he would need to know, and men and women
told him their stories because he listened.
The gypsy girl lived with him on water
called Lake Union. She was more beautiful
than he deserved, he knew and loved her
with what he knew which was not what he learned,
and water here rocked the boat under them.
She would leave for another city then.
San Francisco, New York, Boston before
the one in the middle of a desert,
where he carried what Seattle taught him
and she read what he wrote on the sere page.
She did not need water, she had beauty
to spare. Men took her away and she stayed
until she said she began to miss him,
his words but also his body, the way
his flesh seemed to ripple under her tongue.
Her whole face lighted up when their eyes met.
She said she was afraid of him, his old
soul, he said nothing, he did not know what
she meant, he would take her to bed in lieu
of questions, after all, the war was near
and his life would end soon, she said nothing
and pulled his wand between her magic thighs.
Later, he did not remember cities,
only Irene gone when he returned home.
It would be his son, the curious one
who walked like a cat, who found her and loved
all she had left. She told him his father
may be dead, his son was alive in her . . .
But this was so much later in the lives
of the archaeologists of cities.
(25 June 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander