What do you want from me?
You’re not on the ward now.
No, I’m in bed with you.
You can’t smoke here.
I meant what a light always means: illumination.
(That’s the kind of talk Melindra likes to hear from Bobby.)
What do you want to do today?
Make love with you.
How about, right now, this: . . .
(She does what she was about to propose, but no need, she knew he’d go for it.)
What is it to love like this? Are they at the beginning or near the end?
On her dead-end street, days as well as nights hushed, she prefers the second story.
Out the window, a little park, with no accouterment for children.
You go where you hear the freeway. From here it’s far away.
If you’re Bobby you have to cavort a little, being happy.
If you’re Melindra, you want to find a tree you can’t resist.
He points one out. Looks like teak. He sits, then her. They lie back on dry grass.
Sunday. Sun. Days of rain gone by.
Comes night. Still learning to love one another. Time to return to where they met.
His teacher comes up one night bringing books and a sheaf of white paper,
saying his own teacher was in a far worse place than this, and the name
sounds familiar. His teacher doesn’t believe any of his confessions,
how he stole, chiseled, conned, made it with men’s wives, ran numbers,
rolled fairies in Ravenna Park, simply doing what he had been taught.
Read these, his teacher says, handing him the Melville–Bartleby,
Benito CerenoThe Encantadas, Billy Budd. He chooses Roman Gary,
The Roots of Heaven. He’s already nearly memorized Goodbye, Columbus,
had not heard of Something about a Soldier. Hoaxes intrigues him.
After his teacher leaves Bobby picks up where he left off . . .
What do you do after failure strikes, what do you limp back home to find?
Say you feel like a sap, you still love the trees in the Japanese Gardens.
(14 February 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander