Here I am, an old man remembering.
I could tick off the bullets in a life
–why wouldn’t it be one hell of a speech?
I know now if it were not for women
I would know nothing, remember nothing.
Why go on then? Why not let their love be?
Tell the story of your doomed family,
murder in the Blue Ridge, flight from the law
into Oklahoma Territory,
Cherokee woman dying in childbirth
in Arkansas, my grandma’s Welsh father
leaving to start another family,
my father named after the man who played
and sang in the little towns he rode through,
loved her mother: it was his stillborn child
killed her. All this long before I arrived.
I could tell the story in poetry
but it happened in prose, all but love’s few
and brief intercessions, one woman’s love,
Pearl Taylor she was called, a troubadour’s
darling, and what was he but a rounder?
yet once she learned her Welsh father loved whores
on Fort Smith’s Row down by the Arkansas
River, Grandma declared she told the truth . . .
and so should I if I ever grew old
and, she added, you can love women too . . .
Now, with the grass wet with dew and the sun
as bright as it ever grows in summer,
my bones comply with the earth’s curvature.
And yes, it makes me remember women.
(11 August 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander