She tells Bobby she loves and misses him. Such pain
runs deep down in both of them. To heal, he hitches
to San Francisco, that place in the West he loves.
His bedroll and little steno books are ample company,
with the money he’s earned over the years playing clarinet,
singing blues in the same places, but mostly Hotel Congress,
sleeping in La Iglesia De La Puta, practicing his alchemy–
what Paula calls what he tries to do with words–
but the music provides him dinero, like it does
his mother, who waits at the end of the line to see him.
There are girls who look across the room and he looks back.
There are women who see him hitching beside the road
into the white city; they stop their Lincoln Continental
and wait until he’s nearly there, then go on without him.
In the city he sees Paula’s sister. She’s free from meth,
got a new man whose sax she loves. She’s herself again.
They talk about Portland and Paula, Sanchez and Co.
He asks her to call Paula and tell her the good news,
she says she has. Now he goes to see Henrietta Murphy,
his mother, singing blues for a living on the edge
of La Jolla, a brittle edge. He sees Donna, still dancing
mostly naked at The Cave, Mission Beach, where they met.
He drives Henrietta’s car to take Donna home,
Imperial Beach. She rides him sinuously. Then he sleeps
beside her Afro, her dark body, her agile dancer’s legs
celebrating his return, however brief. And it is brief,
though like the last time he was here Henrietta makes dinner
for him and Donna, and then like before they cross the street
and lie on the sand in the shadows beyond the moon
bright as a sun with the tide coming in to spill
over their sandy bodies locked together. They come.
She takes him home for one last sleep before he leaves.
He misses loving her on the the East Coast.
In the dream, they've never met. Will he wake in time?
He sent off to Thomas Wolfe’s birthplace for a map.
Asheville looks almost part of the Smoky Mountains.
She lives near the Atlantic, though her town gets hot as hell.
In Seattle rain makes words and pictures on his window glass.
(12-13-14 April 2014)
copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander