Trackless Iris of Iowa City


me of Worthington, sitting at our dark cold swimming stream,
there in unrefined embrace shared by lovers so entwined,
pausing, alone on our glacial smooth warm-rocked resting place
…comes, on the water, a slow sparse float of leaves
parading in Fall costumes, common orange, spicy yellows,
querying greys, sugarfied-convertible-reds, acorn boats,
A Japanese rock pool, but our black water holds them in
an unequalled garden (Kneels I)… Heraldry flashing above,
casting airy shadows over a thick layer of done, dropped leaves
undulate-rolling clear on the gray bottom, waving and jahwobbly,
just tired but responsible, preparing still their soaked browns;
friends lost-in-the-wet-ashheap gone
A rural jazzed-up Village scene…..(for we rubes here live
of pumpkin land Halloween, six per stoop, four on the drive)
A farmer’s wife who was going to see Johnny Clegg last
night for an out-of-state overnight (he’s white) invited us
(we’re tan) for a drink while I stuffed a bag of lamb’s-eared
soft lettuce…  (she’s blue) “it got cancelled yesterday, he’s had
pancreatic cancer since 2015 and is on his last tour”…
whiskey declined, but I allowed I had a couple of his records
– though more by accident of a collector of S.A. things-that-
swing than direct interest – she allowed Clegg “live”
avec percussion crew, beat him dancing on the ole’ utube –
(I didn’t reveal my mind is never screen-formed by shoo-tube,
though true I-hypocrite found the true Whinin’ Boy on it too)
To be polite I spoke love for the instant ass-bounce of the
township sound, in comes that gospel organ flood of protest
Said Iris that night:* “sometimes I need to turn Mahalia up loud”
(she’s not sharped or flatted truth since Infamous)
*(Saw the holler-aching-angel that very eve,Oct. 22, 2017,
OurTownshipping at The Ironhorse, stopping second song,
cushionless, to tell us she feels “unease”, unseeing and unseen,
then later, after singing a Delta with her lungs, and lips, and head
gathered Emmett Till to Flora Mae, sparked by her
churches-to-the-jails from Alabam to Mississip
……she’s breathing happier and the audience’s guts back at her
………said Iris, “I love to sing more and more each day”)
laughing, “especially in front of an audience” and remarking
how lovely she could see her man Ray, ce soir, in a black-and-
white “out of style” (laughing again) headshot on the wall
across from her piano while she played her deepest notes
country-fine-she, living for the city…
from the plain roads of wooded Iowa
to wooden shacks sleeping in Madison Park of Montgomery
((her brave, but choiceless, sweet mobile home switch at sixteen,
always her’s to feel over again,  her’s to re-learn and to cherish))
gunshots sounded near the fox den
near the wooded access (town’s locution) sign…
a tropical breeze in the Berkshires
instead of the cool one d’habitude,
houses vacant for years are full,
a porch of six white-haired anciens……(from whence?)
wheel-chaired, each draped in black wraparound sunglasses,
a ne’re seen Trumper hosing his ne’re seen red-striped speedboat,
a blue-jeaned blond carrying a long branch destined for
some beyond-M obra (a snowbird type, entitled)
with five-year old daughter (entitled soon), raking in
my parents’ yard been thinking of Iris, blasting her mix on the box,
my fun paints in the living room waiting for me
in these lush hours warming,
how swell for us she got to her ‘loves-to-sing-more’ gong
and spoke it as she wound along,  and glad it takes her long
to write her songs, and that her unfeigned-my-heart simple
show words are straight up lagniapping my own notes,
which, until last winter, bloomed like the flowers
of the General Grant Projects’ community garden
(in West Harlem’s public housing sphere),
too cautiously planted,
with equal space respect for the next,
(shairness for the next planter)
lovingly in the urban dirt,
but with a strung-out meaning,
islands watched, not archipelagos wending
where they must go
trackless and true, down home back home to home

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