Alma was my mother’s grandmother and a madam.
She worked in a post office later and died in Paradise,
California. Why did she ever run a brothel?
Mama didn’t know, anymore than why her grandma
felt compelled to change her name from Alice
to Alma. My father’s mother had a love affair
with a Mexican troubadour named Manuel
(she died when their child was stillborn). That came later.
When mama’s mama met a fisherman from Alaska–
Mister Smith she liked to call him though his name was Floyd–
she left her house to a woman whose actual name was Alma
but until then had gone by the name of Alice.
Alice moved with Floyd Smith to another town, my mother said.
She worked in the burg’s post office, at the window,
sorting mail, keeping citizens happy with conversation.
My mother said her mother’s mother got bored easily
and would take time off to go see Alma. The house prospered.
It was in Missouri, on the Arkansas state line,
the post office in eastern Oklahoma. Alma asked
Alice, who called herself Allie after that, why she left
wanting her own name back. “A house needs to keep one soul
at least," Allie replied. “My name may be Spanish," Alma said,
"but it doesn't always mean what it says." "Honey,"
Allie said, “you're the real thing, what every good house needs
in a madam, and the more girls with soul the better.
Not like that guy selling his soul to the devil to learn all there is to know.
Neither girls nor madam need to be that greedy,
and even if you were Lady Faust you wouldn’t want more.
Because men sell their souls doesn’t make you
Mephistopheles. Soul here keeps the devil home."
(22 December 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander