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By Barbara Jordan

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Some days I get up before noon just to hear the first notes of the treble world break from my throat over the heads of everyone listening but me.  Companionable in its way? M. But strands stick in my eyelashes and bangs, I'm nearly latestupid, stupid and cursing the strong urine by the curb, the swoonsmell of night-blooming jasmine, and coffee sloshes over my lead-bottomed commuter's cup, Have a Special Day. Which is why I don't see but nearly collide with the young Mexican woman dangling a child by his ankles, headfirst into the garbage dumpster by my car.

Then no one was laughing. Hypodermic needles and cash registers emptied themselves in your presence. Cars went head-on. Sympathy, old motor, ran out or we grew old, our tongues wearing little grooves in our mouths clucking disappointment. Page 22 Michael, what pulled you up by upstart roots and set you packing, left the rest of us here, body-heavy on the edge of our pews.  Later we taught ourselves the proper method for mourning haphazard life: salt, tequila, lemon. Drinking and drifting in your honor we barely felt a thing.

Ten years from writing or waking beloved in the world, you'd never felt so tired or alive to one good idea, though what it was, you couldn't exactly say.  Soon enough you'll have to trash this dream, throw the monkey wrench like a shaman's medicine-bone on the blink end over end into cholla and weeds, start walking. The ice cream's melting.  What we do to stay alive is different from what we are, and some things are lost so well we won't ever have to lose them again. Here in the long end of the smug, bankable eighties, I want to remember you this way, chin in your hands, a little teary-eyed watching thin rivulets form down the bumper in the dust.

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