When Monk played Driftin' on a Reed
in '44 I was still swaddled &
being hauled from base to base.
Reed as in oboe, not a river-grass
raft like the one Moses rode
into history. Holy cow, no.
I was just a girl born in America
during war, a long way to go,
hopscotching across the continent
from upstate New York to Sacramento,
zigging here zagging there
the years slipping up like numbers
on those old gas pumps
30 kachunk 40 kachunk 50.
I'm still on the go & somehow
I got here in front of a store
with Zapatos! Zapatos! Zapatos!
scrawled on the window in Nogales,
Mexico, when I was just trying
to get to the Walgreen's in the US of A
but slipped into the wrong lane, not paying
attention to signs, etc. Blame it on Thelonius
and his riffle of honey still trickling
through the plastic crackle & wheezy
signal from a jazz station who knows where
beaming its little heart out to me
& me stuck in line at the border trying to get
back to my original destination & all these boys
want to wash my window. I'm shaking no no,
what's the point I've got miles to go
& a man with a game leg shoves his cup
at me & I shake no no with a smile
so he will see it's nothing personal—
he's not the only guy with a cup, and me,
I'm just looping along with the song
waiting for that guard to wave
and let me cross over.
Poems by Kathleen Lynch:
TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets