Shirley Alexander (12-05-1953 / Somewhere under heaven, Georgia, USA)
Sweet Wine and Saddle Oxfords
Fara comes to me often lately,
comes down from Grey Hill,
leaving an empty hole between white stones.
She wears the black and white oxfords
from her 1970 cheerleading tryouts.
I still remember how hard she cried.
I am carried by her memory to 1974.
I come into the white house on State Street,
to sit primly at my desk, and wait for
the ringing of a hard black phone.
The Victorian office smells of Clorox
with an undertone of stale piss.
I am busy writing unsigned prescriptions
for black beauties and yellow jackets.
The truckers will bring me presents
of whatever is in their loads.
They bribe their way into being first in line;
snatching the degreed signature of dated medicine.
He comes shuffling down the back hallway
where the black patients used to sit. Separate.
I have never seen him look so tired.
His worn charcoal suit coat falls in loose
thin folds of soft shine from his shoulders.
It's lower in the front, because he has a hump.
'She's dead' he whispers with his head low.
'Who's dead, Doctor Johnson? '
I think through all the old folks
who come to sit musty in the parlour
seeking the relief of small white pills.
I am absently unprepared for his news.
'Fara Moore. She just died on me.'
Somewhere far away I hear a sigh.
Somewhere in the bottom of my heart
I hear a dull breaking sound.
I think of a laughing skinny girl
with glasses and a soft blonde flip.
I think of cutting donuts behind the high school
with Fara riding shotgun in a yellow Torino.
I think of sweet Boone's Farm wine
in a brown paper bag, two girls laughing,
two boys touching tight tan knees
above black and white saddle oxfords.
She comes to me often lately.
She comes to laugh over old times.
She comes to warn of new days.
She comes to share a glass of wine,
and helps me dance the Tiger dance
of sunshine days when life was clear.
Comments about this poem (Sweet Wine and Saddle Oxfords by Shirley Alexander )
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