the phone call
setting off sirens in Jerusalem
the wails of a mother losing a child;
this time a silent movie of roofs caving
smoke and debris, rapid chaos
and then a low inaudible hum.
What is that sound?
A half-century memory to the mystery of our meeting
walking to the edge of manhood together
summer nights in Cleveland
broken hearts confided,
hand dancing in dim house parties
with those good girls we loved,
the Four Tops and Donald Byrd,
slow rub dancing to “Christo Redentor,”
sacred romance to a sassy seductive horn;
creased trousers, polished shoes;
talks on the stoop by street light,
the promise of college just ahead.
He loved his studio on 16th Street
in D.C. after school at Howard;
what brown boy learned from a chef,
tasted pâté and wine?
we took our girls to El Bodegon for the food
and flamenco at night
he told me when Della set fire to his tender heart
her name pouring from his lips from that day
like a mother tongue
a part of his breath
an appendage to his name
landing in Los Angeles
We reconvened from time to time
jazz Fridays at the museum
movies at The Grove
dragging me along like an album
from his old life
for her knowing that last bit of him,
life’s savories filling his big heart
until it burst;
her call starting the silent cacophony
the loss of feeling in my spirit,
what is that sound?
where are my words?
last night the hum
became the sound of buildings caving
his loss an earthquake
the hum is a moan
a wail, an agonized cry
c M. D. Harris, 2015