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.



(©2007)

Submitted: Thursday, January 29, 2009

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  • Laurie Hill (1/29/2009 7:42:00 PM)

    Lovely.......absolutely lovely in its poignancy.....another 10..you are a gifted poet (Report) Reply

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