Dawn coming in over the fields of darkness takes me by surprise and I look up from my solitary road pleased not to be alone, the birds now choiring from the orange groves huddling to the low hills. But sorry that this night has ended, a night in which you spoke of how little love we seemed to have known and all of it going from one of us to the other. You could tell the words took me by surprise, as they often will, and you grew shy and held me away for a while, your eyes enormous in the darkness, almost as large as your hunger to see and be seen over and over.
30 years ago I heard a woman sing of the motherless child sometimes she felt like. In a white dress this black woman with a gardenia in her hair leaned on the piano and stared out into the breathing darkness of unknown men and women needing her songs. There were those among us who cried, those who rejoiced that she was back before us for a time, a time not to be much longer, for the voice was going and the habits slowly becoming all there was of her.
And I believe that night she cared for the purity of the songs and not much else. Oh, she still saw the slow gathering of that red dusk that hovered over her cities, and no doubt dawns like this one caught her on the roads from job to job, but the words she'd lived by were drained of mystery as this sky is now, and there was no more "Easy Living" and she was "Miss Brown" to no one and no one was her "Lover Man." The only songs that mattered were wordless like those rising in confusion from the trees or wind-songs that waken the grass that slept a century, that waken me to how far we've come.