Encounters


Lil' Ouida

Ouida's lyric letters on a black-penned page
Gave greeting from years now numbers
—Bring back her milky skin and flat bust
She didn't bother to button the top of her blouse
Standing at the Post Office with Mimi in wartime
Two see-ers out on their own
—And call back Ouida singing lead at the Stepping Stone
In the women's rock group called Ebb Tide
Though we sometimes referred to them as Undertow:
Helen offered to live with me one winter
And Sylvia was exceedingly friendly the same week
And how Ouida gloried in the heated applause
The crowded dive did have heating its best feature
She grasped the microphone like a shepherd's staff shall we say
And side-humped clitoral joy from our shouts and noise
Making one forget momentarily just which cultural cause
Had precedence tonight on the way to the revolution
Ouida who pierced Hannah's ears bloodily
In tears both of them like paleface Gypsies
Long before beauty parlor zap guns
Ouida the jeweler gardener knitter
("You like?")
Ouida the early morning cook
In that gas station with the flying horse pulled down
They must have remodelled it a dozen times each a failure
The one thing that didn't change the shitter
Possibly a fatal flaw
Ouida sported bobby sox and saddle shoes and drove a Bel Air
She was a lover and a loser she had to cut loose
She talked about Lil' Jeter her dad in Arkansas
He couldn't have been too little she was six feet
The babe of a brood of giants maybe
Her brother once came to visit swinging his single arm
He'd made it back through the smoke and fire and the lies
Midmorning she said goodbye in the parking lot
Heading back to Fayetteville with her young son
Soon it was dressmaker designer model storefront seamstress big-time
Silver threads and golden needles
Too big too loud too shining for the people
Who stand at the pivot of big-time and everyone else one side please
She occasionally returned for sustenance
Once I dreamed about her; two days later she showed up
Just tell me the juicy parts she said
Likely to make it in Dallas five years later
Her note on the desk said dinner tonight
And it was natural at the horse-rancher wife's veranda
Who'd had a good meal fifteen years before if it was a bag of white potatoes
Natural when the dancing started and the children bedded on the lawn
That she floated over to me to be held slender and light, why was this?
As bodies moved in the whorls and circles of Lord Shiva's dance
That is eternal it changes and does not end
On small or big town nights because every town is the same town
Every block the same shape of itself
Every time the same extent from Heaven to Earth
The last I heard she'd gone to Missouri to go everywhere or be tucked away
But there'll be no more Ouida in my lifetime not this life
No way


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