And then, hooked up to tubes and oxygen,
She was screaming, catch me Joey, I’m falling!
I picked her up, the heft and weight
Of rabbit bones wrapped in silk,
I’ve got you Rose I’ve got you.
There were things I wanted to ask her,
But she was calling me by her brother’s name.
It doesn’t matter any more, She said.
It’s ok Joey, It’s ok.
The finest bugler in the army during World War Two.
The best trumpet player in Philadelphia
He had perfect pitch, gray bedroom eyes.
He’d pull up in his Buick, with his quiet Be Bop smile,
And honk the horn, a Jewish Chet Baker.
C’mon Rose, let’s go for a ride.
Let’s get lost.
Years later our kids told me how she’d fling off her apron,
Put on some makeup, fuss with her hair
And leave them with Doris across the street.
She’d jump in the car and come back before dinner,
Always in a better mood.
Now she was flailing with her arms and legs,
And her closed eyes jumped around the room
I could feel her dropping through the rush of years,
Moving through herself like water.
I could almost see the things she saw ripple across her face:
Joey’s medicine girl, Mad Lorraine,
Emerging from transparent walls
The queen of the night from Kensington,
Her face a pale and powdered green,
Her red mouth open, about to speak
As she watched Rosie take the fall.
Joey pounding on our door one night
Then passed out on the couch,
His open trumpet case, reds and bennies,
All the fixings, scattered on the floor.
I remembered Rose the night we met
Between shows at the Stardust club.
She was flushed and glowing,
Infused with a viscous light.
Something moved across her face,
Not a feeling, not a mood.
Why did she go for me, an average looking guy,
A fair to middling pianist.
What else could it be, I thought?
And I chalked it up to love.
Now she moved through herself to that place
She used let me visit but never stay.
She would take me there if my eyes were closed
Let me take you there, she used to say.
You’ll never find it on your own.
And sometimes in the night, in bed
Or when she had a few
She would call me by another name
That I couldn’t quite make out
Catch me Joey, I’m falling, catch me,
So I pretended I was him.
I’ve got you, Rose, It’s Joey.
I’ve got you Rose, I said.
About the Author:
Ed Frankel divides his time between Northern California and Los Angeles where he teaches for the UCLA Writing Programs and Antioch Los Angeles B.A. and MFA programs. His recent poetry has appeared in Fugue, The Dogwood Journal of Poetry and Prose, Nimrod, Pedestal and others. His chapbook, When The Catfish are in Bloom: Requiem For John Fahey was published in Fall 2008 by Finishing Line Press. His Chapbook People Of The Air will be published by New American Press in January 2009. He was nominated for the Pushcart Best of the Small Presses Prize 2006. His essay “In the Lap of the Angel of History: A Memoir,” is included in Cesar Chavez and the Farmworker Movement, 1962-1993. Sal Si Puede Press. Ed can be contacted at his website, Edfrankel.com.