Myra found Doug sprawled on the floor, spike at half mast in his arm.
When she touched him the needle wobbled like a flag.
All color gone from his face, his blood unfurled in a pool
still filling the space under his body and alongside
his lame wrist curled under his good arm, the one that held his horn
left in the case, its reed unchanged for weeks.
Bobby took Melindra to the wake at the cemetery.
She seemed to him like a flower in blossom at the beginning of autumn.
Myra sat with no expression on her face, tears streaking her cheeks.
In that tiny space of earth a tape of D. G. playing Round Midnight
was loud enough to drown out all voices, but there were none.
No strangers appeared but the stony faced gravediggers,
no priest or minister, only Rose, Dave, Sanchez
with La Compania–Tony, Clark, and Paula,
Bobby guiding Melindra to the front row to sit with Myra,
between her and Joe Petta, who had come from La Conner
to say goodbye to his longtime friend Doug Harper.
Others no one knew, only that they were those who remained of his family.
After the coffin was lowered into the grave,
and while the men were filling and tamping the earth,
the tape changed to a series of cuts from Our Man in Paris,
an old Blue Note album with Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke
siding with the tenor sax man someone said "was the perfect cross
of fox and hedgehog," as Bobby recalled reading somewhere once.
Petta had brought Myra a gift, his painting on the doors of a clock
with one inside, what Doug had loved more than any other work of art, jazz
excepted. The ten friends were gathered around a long table in Chinatown.
Melindra asked Petta what he called it. Tbe Doors of Summer,
Heaven and Hell, Joe said. Bobby whispered in her ear: The wolf crouches,
the clock opens, the door divides, the girl waiting inside can leave now.
(21 September 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander