Bonnington told Bobby nothing would bring
any of his dead back to life.
He didn’t say much in his trim white coat,
he had been trained to listen.
When Bobby mentioned drinking, the doctor
turned the subject to Melindra.
Nothing more need be said, the big cloud
over the room was about to pass,
there was only one thing to do now: Stop
battering your life until you grow too old
to invent what you might possibly know
so well you didn’t even know you knew.
There was also this sliver of the city
deep down, where his ghosts lived in ruins.
Melindra was glad she kept her house.
She told Bobby the good times were over.
He was just back from seeing Bonnington.
He told her they hadn’t happened yet,
the good times. He gathered the booze
in the bungalow and took it to the dump
where the gulls swooped and wheeled
with their cries of hunger, of need.
She was guardedly happy. How happy
could she be? Bobby asked her to marry.
She drove downtown, bought some fish
at Pike Place market, gave it to Anna,
who asked if they’d come for dinner,
and Melindra said Bobby was too busy,
but she would love to stay. He told Anna
he was trying to talk her into marriage.
I have nothing to say, Melindra said.
Paul came in and talked Bobby down:
What will Melindra do if you can’t quit
drinking? The romance was over now,
Bobby said, it was time to begin living.
And he went over the rules of the dead,
that they bury their own dead, watch
over fires whipped by wind in Hades,
and stoke the smoldering ashes to live
again . . . once the great wheel turned
through its cycle so timeless even God
was fooled by the void in its becoming.
Paul’s Mozart played through dinner.
Anna asked what he’d written lately.
Paul wondered if he was doing music.
Bobby said he was getting married.
Melindra was silent. Paul put on a tape
sounding like Rose. Is that Bessie Smith?
Bobby asked. What a waste, Paul said,
a hospital barred its doors and she bled
to death. Bobby told them about Rose,
wondering if Rose found her own ghosts
in the ruins of this wet, flowering city.
What could possibly give her comfort?
The blues wrapped her in their arms
and she turned agony into dark love.
(24 March 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander