Thursday, November 15, 2012


When he met a tall girl with a neck like Modigliani’s
women and she would welcome him driving to Tacoma
to see her, he wanted to take her from her divorced mother
who drank all night until stumbling crossing the floor.
He walked the girl to the nearby park, where the dark
reminded him Irene’s sky was full of stars, not so dark.

He read Shakespeare on the beach at Alki, drove south,
and soon was reading “Politics and the English Language”
along with Hamlet. It seemed a little like the Danish prince
taking instruction from the gnarly, courageous Englishman.
He arrived at Ophelia’s castle in mid-afternoon
and left by midnight, crazed by memory the next afternoon.

He drove home, his father was alive, still married to his mother.
He made love with Irene in her car, then his, with little sleep.
She did not smell like the Tacoma girl, her skin gave off musk
he loved to taste, or thought he could. His father and mother
loved her. His friend Jess Maltos, his Horatio, knew her
from childhood. So much to dream of heaven, to know on earth!

He went with the Tacoma girl to a river upcountry.
Her cousin looked like her father, both men of the city
whose styles were sober, stony. His feckless schoolmates were spies
reporting to no one, not even each other. Her cousin
her true love, she followed him across. The country boy refused
to swim. The current was too swift and his element earth.

He lived in the city like a fool obsessed with revenge,
though still only a boy whose heart was anchored in the country.
He no longer knew the way through Tacoma, nor did he care.
In a dream his face was filling the skull the gravedigger
plucked from the open grave, in his other hand the lost heart.
He read Nineteen Eighty-Four and drove over the mountain.

(15 November 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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