The Girl On the Tasseled Filly
for Cecil J.
It’s a dirty-trick, the tick-tocks. You’re held captive,
caught in a kind of snow-globe musical sphere where
you whirl with a thousand flying flakes. The end awaits,
but you don’t know exactly when, or what’s promised.
You really feel sorry for next of kin, the sudden trickle
of jacketed friends, the curious, young and aging, who
peek at what’s left of your body. Some quote from
the bible, even recite psalms. Can there be a heavenly
or mythological rescue? Others with fond memories
just hold steady, commemorating you. Remembrances
are embroidered: how you saved a child in Betsy Head
pool, leaped to catch a ball hit by Hawk Aaron at Ebberts
Field. You loved pickle juice. Yes, DJ Clay Cole once
introduced your doowop group, the Novas, at Wingate
High. Onlooking choirs sang your praises as if feeding
you tubes of Gatorade. Precious Lord. But they shouldn’t
have worried, though you couldn’t say that. A nurse
whispered, “He’s done,” not seeing the burst of white
doves overhead as you pedaled full speed ahead on your
red-and-blue tricycle. Fading in the light, you whispered—
told me about old passions, not the expected story:
the kids, Disney, you with your wife in that hot, heart-
shaped tub. The director’s cut was Angie, who I didn’t
know, barely seventeen, a tease in her curvy peddle-
pushers, a budding Dear-Lord rosebud halter. She
galloped on a tasseled carousel filly, a jumper at
Coney Island. From your saddle, you kissed her in
mid-air, tasted lemon meringue pie. As you circled,
she giggled, said it: “You’re the best jockey ever.”
Walk-to-trot, trot-to-canter. She was your first, you
hers. But life is life. At the funeral, you said I’d see
this old lady sitting in the church’s padded last pew.
Nobody would see the violet flash her under her flare-
out skirt—not on the college quad, not there. She’d be
the last to leave, tears soaking her pony’s mane, brass
pole, the garden road where you’d soon meet again.
About the Poet
Isaac Black, an MFA graduate of Vermont College, has work published or forthcoming in journals like the Beloit Poetry Journal, Callaloo, Fjords, Poetry Quarterly, Boston Literary, Bop Dead City (interview), San Pedro River Review and Spillway. Founder of a major 501(c) college help organization, he’s been awarded the Gwendolyn Brooks Literary Award for fiction and Broadside Press Award for poetry. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, he’s also been a recipient of poetry fellowships from the New York State Creative Artists Service Program (CAPS) and New York Foundation of the Arts. Isaac’s the author of the African American Student’s College Guide (John Wiley & Sons).