In the other world this one is well known.
The story goes like this (so I am told):
Clouds open to rain, rain soaks into earth,
earth is the flesh that holds bones together.
All the stories go like this. They bore me.
I enter the street to look for trouble.
Trouble finds me, for I look everywhere.
It kills me, it defeats me, it haunts me.
It unshackles my unforgiving soul,
lifting it to the world above the clouds.
Trouble filling the soul was my first look
at death. I held close to all that I loved,
the four-footed, the winged, the bodies
within their bodies beautiful women
carried, choosing to send their fetus back
to the other world. There was one I loved,
whose seed was not mine, and when it was gone
I came to love her. How good our love was
at first, she said. Then days unlived were years,
and all because I left her home alone.
As a last resort, she showed me her kit:
needle and syringe. She told me how to fix.
I saw what her words said might happen now.
She did not implore me to stay. She left.
I smoked marijuana more than you should.
Her Lockjaw Davis, Shirley Scott Cookbook
played over and over, and then Coltrane’s
Ole! before his Live in Seattle
I found in San Diego. I observed
men age getting high, the two worlds closing
with their lives between. I refused offers
endlessly: they turned into slithering
snakes speaking: Listen to this, try this too,
one little taste, the music comes inside.
My first love lives with animals, birds. Womb
gone, she can bear no children. I find her
in California, where I live, if you
can call it life. Her gypsy scarf I kept
when she traveled south on her ten red toes . . .
I return the scarf. Trouble leaves our bed.
(9 December 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander