Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Trilogy for a Russian Daughter in Mexico City

1. Madre

Nothing is sacred in the age of lies.

Each day the wind blows cold air.
I came here through the drizzle,
he says, searching for my mother.
She died,
the man replies.
He shows Bobby the books,
tours him through the microfiche.
Nothing here’s left to chance.

Cathleen is growing tired of Bobby:
He gets nowhere.
He thinks he’s an avenue Casanova,
she’s not the first or last to say.
The wise know the answers,
Questions they shape sound true.

Henrietta Murphy is on the books
as dead. Bobby doesn’t believe it.

Cathleen is back from San Francisco
for the day that becomes a week.
She’s due in Paris in a week
and leaves . She doesn’t want to.

Bobby returned home to heal a heart
in love again;
this time, he declares, for good.

Katya writes from Mexico City.
She is learning Italian
to go with English, Spanish,
Russian and other Slavic tongues.
Her father has ten languages,
a world-renowned astrophysicist.
She will go back to Russia.

Katya doesn’t write I love you,
Bobby almost does but holds back,
he doesn’t want her to think
he’s a burden, even this far away.
Yet he goes back to his old ways:
Jacqui, for one.
She calls him Diego.
He says you’re too buxom
to be Frida. She says
the meat is sweeter far from the bone.

Jacqui has answers for questions
he doesn’t even ask.
Not Christina. She’s his mother
or wants to be now,
holding on to being his lover.

Christina tells him everything
on her mind. She says she’s too old
to have a baby, but needs
reminding she’s still young.
It’s the every-night hip-high hose
she wears to put butter on her bread,
she says: You have to be young
and stay that way
as long as you need to pay your way.

(13 May–dia de la madre–2012)

 2. At Alki

The day was very sunny.
The sky was also clear,
water audible from here,
where Bobby wrote songs
and read Shakespeare,
Milton, and Auden.
Wystan Hugh walked
up the beach and back
to his home in New York,
having given the key
to his Ischia house
to Roethke and Beatrice
to honeymoon in
back then. So said they
who know about love
poets knew.
Poets were paid in love,
everybody knew:
I love. You love.
They love
to earn their keep.
Each in his or her own way.
The wealthy Tolstoy knew
love was more than money.
Sofia made fair copies
in her own hand
of his novels big as trees.
California redwoods:
you see one,
you’ve seen them all,
the young woman said,
quoting Reagan,
giving Bobby a ride
up California
to Cathleen’s place.
She’d just quit her job
dancing on tables
and would start tomorrow
or maybe take a week off,
then take up street jobs,
she called it
before her time.
he would know more.
was writing letters
again. Now
clouds gathered
like crowds.
He imagined thunder,
saw lightning,
felt a drop of rain:.
When will we three
meet again?
He needed only one.
In Mexico City,
she would be
home in Russia soon.
Yasnaya Polyana?
No: tourists mostly,
. . . like Havana’s

(14 May 2012)

3. Early Rising

Awake two hours, slept four, heart’s on fire, loins . . .
Whadaya say, Bobby? You ask yourself,
how far could it be from here to there?
Why do the words flow through your throat
like music, effortlessly, unlike labor . . .
Don’t men have it good? No couvade necessary,
though what lover would not spare the loved one
the sweet agony her body knows . . .
trouble enough, Bobby, to travel without paying
the fare. Trouble enough to fly through the air
in your mind . . . Can’t call that imagination,
but self-abuse, the masochism of the lover when
the beloved is elsewhere . . . Everybody seems to be
in the know but you. Why not take a stroll . . .
Above the nest, feed with your beak
from her nipples, move below the belly button
to her flare of hair covering her perfumed door
and sing the next song, not Body and Soul

but All of Me and change the Me to You
and walk away to where’s she’s waiting to meet you:

(15 May 2012)

(linked 19 May 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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