Lelli asks him to call her El, what Roberto does.
Is that what you were called in Athens?
His question amuses her, she doesn’t answer.
Adore asks him why he’s changed her name
from Adore to Adora. He can’t say
he did. It’s just the title of a chapter
in her life of poetry, el grito y baile, gris gris
a la ju-ju, he doesn’t know the difference:
ju-ju mama whose blood may run far from
gris-gris daughter she reared to be her own.
From San Francisco comes a letter forwarded
with nothing on the envelope from Cathleen.
What did he expect her to say? Cry foul?
The letter’s from New York City,
Leila Shulamit, Maria Teresa, writing to say
she’s glad she left Chicago, but why,
he wonders. She makes it short. She says
nothing more than telling him where
he can write her, one of two addresses.
She says she loves him. He likes to read it.
He begins to remember how he made a vow,
he did not decide, to write. In a city library
he found Steegmuller’s translation of Flaubert’s
Madame Bovary and Fitzgerald’s Crack-up.
He can’t recall for sure how old he was,
but old enough to know old Scott did not
last long. It was his book he read closely.
The Flaubert he did not read until Paul de Man’s
version. He was already beginning to learn
to make the language sound like his own.
He read incessantly. He woke with the words
dancing in his head and could not wait to go
where he is now, only then he wrote with pen
and paper, sometimes pencil, then typed it up,
not like now going over and over making changes
until it reads like gates opening the Garden of Eden.
El it would be then. Her eyes danced as her feet
danced when he first saw her through his window.
He assured Adore he would not call her Adora,
too near adorar, too far from ahora. They fuck.
(30 July 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander