She curled her blonde hair. Rumplestiltskin spinning straw
could not see her fingers making circles that stayed,
and when they would go, went where the loas could reach.
They saw she had beauty to spare, blonde became red
with a tint here, there, invisible in the dark
whose only light bathed her in a glow when she sang
where Ira played. Adore met her where she first saw
her man with the horn, Ira, come all the way here
from Virginia as though he were looking for her
to love him, Adore the only name he would hear
as the crescendo followed the beat building high.
Adore took Anne to her shotgun house when Ira
was gone. In the back room Adore opened the door
to the alley where the loas entered, she knew
the breeze wafting her hair . . . none know who have not moved
among them. Adore gave Anne secrets she could spare
and some she did not know she knew. The whole word hive,
candles guttering in the dark, back door shut tight,
the skin’s sleekness soothed with woman’s satiny sweat
aroused by the horses entering her, inside
moving like a miracle with hooves or a man
riding bareback without a saddle
when he came in, on in, the mirage of music
a frayed sound wet and stretching toward the light. Anne laughed
once time began again. Am I some Rapunzel
who can’t choose between blonde and red hair?
Again and again, and again Adore led her
to that room until Anne could let the horses ride
inside her, until the moon seemed to shine through walls.
So many times the two women convened, no need
to count. Each time there was food only hunger needs.
More than a man can give a woman. The loas
know more than men how to get what they want.
Then the animals. They were hers and she was theirs.
First there were opossum, cotton mouths too . . .
Then the deer and bear she dreamed became the most real . . .
another brush with disbelief, this time waking
somewhere Adore taught her to know when Anne would ask,
a question answered with a song, not Careless Love,
more like St. James Infirmary, though the intro
might never reach the place where the coda began.
Besides, down here you don’t sing like they do up there.
Possum hang from trees by their tails, the cotton mouths
drink swamp water before they are disturbed and strike . . .
The animals were not in the songs but they purred
and growled, like men and women: Adore, then Ira.
Pretty soon Adore said, Irish Mama, you know
what you need to coax the horses back through the door,
the horses know more than you will ever know now,
more than I could even imagine . . . Adore loved
the animals too. They were also hers, she theirs.
Irish Mama was born in this city, but bathed
by her true mother, she from whose womb she emerged . . .
The loas visited them one at a time. Anne laughed
when she woke. Adore asked how she was. From now on,
Anne told Adore, she would be a red glow on nights
she waited for the man to fill her hunger.
Red hair, she said, never fails a man’s appetite.
And you can’t feel "sated and drowsy" if the man
doesn’t. Her pussy cat was orange, her tom deep red.
She lived in the Garden District, a home bequeathed
to her, the sole survivor. She sang for pleasure.
She fucked for pleasure. And soon she knew
she now understood what life, her life, was for.
again, for Maria Teresa
(7 June 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander