Thursday, March 15, 2012


Bobby's Italian friend, Tony, drove a Morgan
and stayed out all night. He hated the man
posing as his father, his mother’s new husband
who came from a town in northern Minnesota,
someplace called Bemidji. Tony got to know
Jacqui, who had heard of Bemidji. He
informed her it was Ojibwe for "water
crossing other water." "What water?" she
asked Tony. He said, "The Mississippi
crossing a lake; say bemijigaumaug,"
and she tried. So Bobby heard the story.
He was trying to stay away from her.
She lived like she had a good time sleeping.
He stayed away from both Jacqui and Marge.
He needed to learn to save his money.

Am I the only one who knows nothing?
Bobby thought. He was beginning to learn
to sing. Wasn’t that something, Irish boy?
Maybe, the voice between his ears replied,
have you nothing to do but sing of love?
Tony and his girl, Laurie, came to hear
Bobby. The combo was in fine fettle,
as Bobby had heard the old-timers say.
Because he’d just had his Billie Holiday
student dream, he sang Body and Soul
the way he remembered her saying it
should be sung. Laurie clapped loudest.
Tony knew Dave Cole and went over
to the piano. Dave let Tony sit in and
Hoagy Carmichael was born again . . .

That’s how Dave Cole found a back-up
so he could spend more time with Rose,
the white girl living on the edge, literally,
though figuratively it was Madison where
Dave lived with her so he could stay close
to his mother and his brothers and sisters.
I’d say Rose is a looker, Bobby told Dave.
Dave told him to watch out and smiled.
Tony and Laurie and Dave and Rose
knew each other but not from high-school days,
where Bobby had met Sanchez, Clark, Dupree,
Jim and Marge. Rose tended bar and
waited tables and all the other things
no one else would do at the Black and Tan,
where the brothers and sisters liked to be.

Rose is a secret heroine of Bobby’s tale.
He begins hanging with Dave so as to hear
him say who she is in his oblique way.
Bobby learns the following: Rose comes
from a mixed marriage: her father married
a woman Dave’s mother knew from childhood.
Dave’s father died. He moved his mother.
She kept house while Rose was working.
His mother loved Rose as though she were
her own. His mother’s name was Lu Ann.
Bobby would learn more about her than Rose.
For lives that need no plot, the stars appear,
disappear, come back, and through centuries
love survives madness and death before Rose
sheds her thorns to flower in full blossom.

(11 March 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

1 comment:

  1. "She lived like she had a good time sleeping"--great line!