The Red Ahead

In Memory:  Toni Hardley

 

On her final day at work,

Before we left the bridge,

And she went home to sleep,

She said to me:

 

“You will just have to suck it up,

Like everyone else, and do your time.”

Then, gently, “You will see,

The remaining years will pass, quickly.”

 

They have, but without her tough

Affection.  In her absence, a heart

Of paper mache was placed on high,

Nearby.  It is an apt, ancestral symbol.

 

Partial to red, it suited her soul.

If ever we asked, “See you tonight?”

Self possessed, she answered, “Maybe.”

A bingoist, she called out the numbers.

 

Her Black, matriarchal sense of family

Encompassed the dispatchers here.

Only a few years older than me,

I was perpetually her “child.”

 

After the funeral, the officers

On motorcycles peeled away,

First to one side, then to the other.

An immense assemblage disbursed.

 

I was walking alone again,

Lost in the world again; Or, was I?

Red is a signal that catches the eye,

Even of someone distracted.

 

When I was told in effect,

“Golden go fly a kite,” I looked

In Jefferson Square at the kitist, flying

His red and gold dragons ever higher.

 

When I discovered my casita,

Beneath the green-black olive tree

In front, I noticed the unfamiliar flower,

Its color pink, deepening to red.

 

And now, after deciding that

I have had enough, the vibe

From my colleagues is as warm

As if it were a color like red.

 

Once, my judgment clouded,

I consulted a psychic.

I had the temerity

To ask after her.

 

She deigned to send a message:

“It is not for anyone there,

To  worry about us, over here.

Rather, we look after you.”

 

February 28-March 1, 2014

 

 


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