Monday, October 24, 2011

Bird of Paradise

I don’t know if there is one that far south. I just don’t know.
The odds are fifty-fifty, I’d say.
I’ve never been there. People say it is Paradise.

I hate the bus, riding all day and night and sore ass every move, like bed sores afoot.
I’d rather be in bed with Ruby. But that’s over.
I had my chance. Why bother now? ‘s too late.

I had this idea that if I got to town before Ruby, I’d look up Delia somehow, talk
her into being my friend. I thought I, more likely than Ruby, would qualify.
Still, I like to think I’m open to the life before me . . .

Lena Grove saying, My, my, a body does get around, here I been gone only a few days
and already here I am,
where I set out to find my baby’s father. (Yes, she’ll be “light in August.”)

Faulkner’s fine, but Welty makes me laugh, especially “Why I Live at the P.O.”
I’m a self-taught Huck Finn type, but still, I love to love,
which is a civilizing influence, I’m told.

But enough put on. When I get to town I’ll be ready
to walk around and memorize street names, just like women
I’ve known, and can’t help intersecting with others, not in the long run.

I don’t care about seeing Oxford or Jackson.
I got only one thing on my mind and it ain’t Mississippi.
Why else am I here? Once Ruby's on Delia’s trail, my luck lies in doubt.

Your mind wandering riding Trailways doesn’t matter, the body has its needs.
When we stop for lunch I watch this good-looking woman rise
and in the coffee shop I ask if anyone has the seat beside her.

I don’t need to tell you how I passed the time the rest of the trip,
She was alone before, but not now. We got a room.
She was from Natchez. I lied to her, said I was from Vicksburg.

What would Reynolds have done? I wonder. He learned more in the army
than most people even know is possible . . .
Russian, for example. Back in college, brushed up on his French, Latin, Greek.

Reynolds loved to compare Vicksburg with a woman living alone
defying all the men in town clamoring to be her erstwhile lover.
It didn’t help anyone there to have a reputation, Civil War or no.

(24 October 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

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