If there were stories that could take the place of life,
What would you need? Not even a house or wife.
Let the air resound with words and nothing else,
Not the earth, not water or fire, not even a face.
All our lives are given over to what’s human.
Animals can’t speak so they must listen.
I wanted to know how she spun and weaved
and cast a spell. It was not because she could.
She told me to go back and read John Keats.
Learn how he sees a sparrow at his window,
and finds himself pecking among the gravel.
You concentrate like him, you learn from her.
She was a hoodoo, ju-ju, gris-gris conjure woman.
She let the loas in. They gave her a lesson
then two and three and four and she learned how
to make what she never told when she could show.
Pretty soon the lungs begin to rupture, his blood
spilt on the Spanish steps, no telling what could
save him, not Marie Laveau, not even sparrows,
for he lived too soon, death was in his marrow.
The mother and daughter had the same name.
I could go back and live there but what would
I do? The wraiths say I need to start over.
I will when I find the words I never learned.
Mother gives daughter all she needs to know.
The daughter does all her mother taught her.
When the mother dies what of the daughter?
She does what she will. She cannot follow.
(30 November 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander