again for his daughter, Nicole
Dredge up all the goddam gossip about his quarrel
with Manuela Roma’s brother
when she was married to me,
but he was, as Cathleen says, my kindred spirit.
He was riding the MBTA when he saw the news
about Manuela and me getting hitched.
As far as Boston, you could see we were an item.
Albuquerque took photos of the two of us,
wrote her up. The INS taped us, mainly her.
When we split, she lived in the foothills
in soft arms, the love of another, love’s honey.
Cathleen lived in the South Valley.
Then we lived where Gus came to say goodbye.
We returned one year he was very much alive,
very happy with Elizabeth. A marriage, finally.
We sat on the upper deck of Los Italianos,
he told me how our pal Geoff Young was faring,
and Cathleen listened. Little curlicues of time
unraveled. Ira and he were on the outs
momentarily. Kurosawa had just died.
In the years that followed we wrote letters,
he and Ira reconciled. Ira e-mailed his death
in that all-of-a-sudden way life has of happening.
Especially when it turns into death, that fuck.
They played tapes of the Stones and Dylan–
Sympathy for the Devil, Knocking on Heaven’s Door –
at what he would have preferred be called
his wake. Into the furnace went his Pachuco hand
with the rest of him, the high forehead, the eyes
that couldn’t stop dancing to the music
of his mimicry, the way he criticized all fools.
Elizabeth took his ashes to South Carolina,
buried them with a cross that read
Here lies some kind of cat or was it
one hell of a cat . . . Geoff must talk to her
by phone. Gus called him every week.
Gus called me when I moved to the Yukon,
I liked to say, northern Minnesota, where he knew
a scholar of Hemingway and a scholar
of Emily Dickinson he likened to Cathleen
and me. They taught in Bemidji, he said,
no one here had ever heard of them, it must have been
a brief affair. Not us. We wore our flesh too proudly
to be sane. We gave up the game, a small town
can’t handle people like Cathleen and me.
I became a Catholic, under Ernesto Cardenal’s influence.
Manuela and I were married by him
on paper. There is a poem . . .
Still, it’s a hell of a place to die. In winter. They keep
the body on ice here until spring thaw.
No wonder I and all kindred spirits choose the fire.
Not only is it faster, but it’s cheaper,
the kind of end poets choose and scholars like Gus
who said "I scribble" . . . about Matisse, for one,
Icarus say, what Cathleen talked about this morning
over the space between us and the floor, amazed
our friend was still out there somewhere
circling time on its wheel, it might take centuries,
Gus’s only been gone a dozen or so goddam years.
(26 April, cinco de mayo 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander