I do not know why Angel took such umbrage
to a kiss, she who sold her flesh for much less . . .
It was not the kiss but what it meant to her and
her sisters and brothers, of whom Gerry was one.
Because she kissed only those she loved, Beasley
was her beloved. She sensed the poet knew more
than she, though he only told her of his writing,
or read to her. She puzzled through many words
but never interrupted. She had never been where
he had been, heard what he had heard, seen what
he had seen. But for the St. Paul nun, beautiful
as she was violent, he knew he would not be here.
To get here, he had fallen. Angel climbed out
of her hell. No woman from where she came,
the bottom of Skid Road reached just before the logs
splashed into the Sound, ready to be sent to market
–few girls stayed alive to become a woman, and here,
which he called down here, no one survived who did
not whore or worse. Either that or be condemned
to continual childbirth, suffer incessant blows
from men’s hands, lessons delivered by masters
whose wives in name only were meant to be slaves.
The future for Angel back there was only death.
At least selling her body gave her some rights:
If she did not need the money for the moment,
she might refuse sex, though she always had a need
for money. Where she was born sex was a woman’s
way to keep from being murdered, and even then
no assurance she would not be executed . . .
The sexual act she knew, and knew it was an act.
And she had come here, into this city’s bowels
so she could sleep alone. She needed such sleep,
but there was her human heart’s need to love,
and she chose the black man to take to her bed
because there was still the taste of woman in him
that revealed itself through the passion they shared,
odd those it was for him to have overcome by now.
They shared a bed because they abhorred violence,
all the forms of cruelty they tried to overcome.
And it was only with each other they could gain
such knowledge. And he proved another lie false
among those from her childhood, the rascist smears
that compared Beasley and his brothers with the devil.
With him Angel found for the first and last time
in her brief life the love that kisses were meant for.
Of her own choosing she had never kissed any man
but him, and in her profession was aging so fast
she sensed Gerry Beasley would be her only love.
I was glad Terri had left town and never returned.
She had found more than one man to love, to kiss.
(3 April 2013)
copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander