Mama got light cakes shaped like small shells from our cousin
Madelyn who’d turned her hand to baking these delicacies
laced with honey and lemon. She served them on side plates set
down by a vase massed with marigolds on our old dining table
spread with a cream damask tablecloth from better days.
Porto Pruno wine aglow in our last two unchipped wine glasses.
A sweet-mouth repast for the day you brought him to meet us.
This is Jean, he is from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His name must be
pronounced Jha. In order to sound it right, you must glide it
over the back teeth, then express it out of a half-open mouth.
Jean est journaliste, on assignment to the Star newspaper
where you were star reporter. When you left for the evening shift,
I stood on a carton box and peeped from the upstairs window
to see Jean pause at the gate, light a cigarette, pull in and release
a smoke ring, then a smoke veil sheer as illusion tulle.
He draped one arm like love’s banner across your shoulders.
There was talk of marriage and you making a home in Haiti.
Then came shock bulletins of Papa Doc and Tonton Macoute.
And did Jean flee to France where he and his creole parents
owned a pied-à-terre in Paris, or was it a château in Provence?
No more Jean. Time passed and you loved again; but now
You’re traveling, will you want to stop over in France? If you do
get a dainty honey and lemon cake that might bring you back to:
Jean at a gate, smoke ring, and a smoke veil you’ll pass through.
O mon soeur. My sister, pass through.