She sends home what reaches her.
He doesn’t know her meaning.
He asks, she must be referring
to the madman who plays Christ
in a movie all the Christians see
because the priest recommends
they go then gather in conversation.
Is he the one Jennifer Lopez loves?
That is how the question emerged,
answer ready, which means shut up
until I can read your mind, he tells
himself to follow his own advice.
He does: When every ten years
he goes mad, falling off one end
of the cliff where he has lived
since twenty-one, and he’s only
thirty, he crawls back up slowly
as you must when without pitons.
She was twenty-one that year,
she knew more, she put her mind
to work overtime, he was hers
that year, she saved his mind,
then saw him lose it once more
and who can bear such agony,
a retch of error, the dawn failing
without light and no preparation
for sunrise, the madness nowhere
but in him, how they come together
and marry, forty years pass,
she doesn’t remember until photos
reach her: of the year after her
and the urge that led him south,
the woman who drove him mad
originally become his savior.
You sent yourself home, stayed.
No one will ever be remembered
for aping Artaud, or Van Gogh
without the razor at one ear,
or whom, who knows? Her scar
is from the attack Rose suffered
walking herself home one night,
white girl with music in her veins.
She fought them off, raped.
Bobby knew them, old friends:
Dave told him he hated white guys,
his widowed mother hated them,
now Rose would know what he knew.
She had all the songs down.
He played them, she sang them.
It was the apogee of the rock era.
Don’t throw rocks at my house,
motherfucker, Dave liked to say
to whomever in the audience
started up about the black pianist
playing for the white woman.
I’ll keep writing songs about you.
Then he followed Rose down the hill
downtown, Jackson Street Café,
not serving food now, only the music
a man and woman out here make.
(9 March 2013)
copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander