The platinum blonde was married
and had been married more than once.
She said she liked the way I played
clarinet, her head in both hands,
so intense she might be learning
or remembering or just rapt
watching my fingers on the keys,
my mouth forming its embouchure.
Between sets we sat together.
She smoked, sipping Southern Comfort.
She had blue eyes. I played her blues.
When the night was over we climbed
the street where you could see out there
the moon shining between shadows.
She hailed a cab. We went downtown.
Rose was still on stage, so we watched
her follow her blues with her lips.
Rose came over to meet my friend.
When Dave arrived I said goodnight.
She was staying in the Franklin.
She asked me to come up to say
goodbye. I left her in her room
asleep and walked all the way back.
I knew she was too good for me.
I had used up my lucky charms.
No Irish leprechauns revealed
the soul that only she possessed.
In the morning she would fly out
to be with her husband again.
She said she knew now why she came.
Our meeting had been an answer
but to what I would never know.
Nor did I need to know. A life
like mine followed where music led.
I rose and fell, no longer young
but not too old to choose my way.
I preferred the way up, not down,
yet I knew it was the way out
that counted at the end, years gone
and how could you help but regret
pages left blank, like the story
I talked to her about, Beasley’s
chronicle of all his brief lives,
a parade of outcasts come home
who never had a home before
they found what life he gave them now.
(4 April 2013: II)
copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander