Tuesday, March 13, 2012
We got the main gig at the New Congress,
where Christina would work, she said,
until she found Sugar Daddy, laughing.
She said my version of Funny Valentine
was a little more lively, she added a smile,
than You Know Who. But, baby, Sinatra
was unbeatable. I said I’d go a few rounds
with Frank before long, and then recalled
that’s how Hemingway and Mailer talked
about their ancestors. Christina buttonholed
me after closing time and told me Henrietta
gave me the gift. She swore she never heard
a woman with a deeper voice. A baritone,
was it? Whatever you call it, she said,
you’ve got it, honey, please don’t lose it . . .
DG also complimented the hell out of me.
I told him I was glad to be free of my reed.
One night we went out for drinks. I had
to protect him from himself. That’s how
jail was his only address, at least till now.
Sanchez told him if he had to stay drunk
he might oughta take his horn to Skid Road.
You could roll it down like they did logs
in the old days, and follow it to the bottom.
Melindra came to listen when she was off.
She knew more than I about singing,
I asked her how, and she just shrugged,
said she used to play her LPs night and day.
She also confessed she sang for a trio
when she was my age, eight years ago.
That was a little bootcamp for nursing
the pothead and the smack addict. They
must have known she’d be a nurse someday.
She said I should have sung opera. I said
I would’ve had to learn to speak Italian.
She thought that was funny and I thought
it would be impossible. Think of the single-
mindedness it took to keep your lungs oiled.
She said, My dear, I want you to be famous.
I murmured under my breath, Not that again.
(9 March 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander