The hospice nurse checks again
The water temperature.
Swelling in the hands,
The legs, the sensitive feet,
My father in the lift device
Shows no discomfort,
Even beams a little,
Looking at me.
Fluorescent light in the poster frames.
Around a breezy field, silver coastline . . .
The patient closes his eyes
And moans as he is washed.
Dream #2: I pull into the driveway
With a gift for the dying man.
Pink blossoms crowd the rose bush.
At this point in the story,
The sun-bleached, unlovely petals
Should already have littered the lawn
And disappeared. Why these clusters
Around the light post, why still
These flowers hiding the metalwork?
The neighborhood is busy with autumn raking.
Call and response of bamboo, plastic, steel.
The sun shines. The cicadas drone.
An autumn drive, the suburb’s decorative elms and poplars.
Then the rural scenery, the foliage all around.
Fiery reds, greens edged with yellow,
The sky cloudless, without depth.
Then the look out point, the destination.
From the open car window, a view of the Helderbergs.
At the guardrail, a boy throwing stones into the treetops, below,
Then the clamor of beating wings, a flight of starlings
Rising, dome shaped, then taking off
In every direction, the air cold, the dying man tired.
Frank’s Orchestra had three records, six songs
Under-recorded, dumped on, taken advantage of
coming out of an orphan asylum in Virginia . . .
somebody heard the melody and made it into a hit
The Blues My Baby Gave To Me
Stolen, never made a penny on it
There’s no places like Minton’s
no clubs like Nick’s or The Savoy in Boston
I remember when I came to New York . . .
sixteen years old, leaving Mom all alone in Brighton
. . . it was unbearable, Dad gone again
my brothers fighting in the War
The coincidence was I got to the City and kicked around
looking for a job, still trying to become a jazz musician
and worked in Greenwich Village in Jerry Newman’s record store
and Jerry gave me an acetate copy from his original
of the session at Monroe’s
all seven minutes and nineteen seconds
Frank, improvising Sweet Georgia Brown
This is it, this next one