The first time I saw Rachel she was singing the blues, she was outgrowling Eartha Kitt,
she was crooning full mouthed blue dirt and funk, a caterwaul strain like a siren.
The first time I saw Rachel she sang a case hardened lullaby, she was threading
the silvery eye of a needle. She was shooting an elegant low note straight from
the lip like only a junkie can.
The next time I saw Rachel it was Samhain Eve in the red light district, in the
democratic plague spotted war zone. She said, Trick or Treat, with her Botticelli
face, with her raven hair, she was a street corner angel with cloisonné skin.
She was getting the lay of the land, she was paying lip service, she was gilding
the poppy, she was trembling in the balance. She moved catlike downwind like a
hunter. She was dredging the depths of the Stygian creek, she was bleaching her
works, she was nodding out cold.
She rasped, Damnifido and damnifidon’, jus’ a no-good junkie ho’ loss her
voice. She coughed, O me, I’m aw right, chile. She slurred, I jus’ sink to ma
knees, don’ nevah kiss onna mouth. She was a faded cut flower in a vase
without water; she was beautiful, she was already dying.
The last time I saw Rachel she was sallow and halting. She was so thin she was
nearly invisible sideways. I saw a gathering of clouds, I saw three liver colored lesions.
She sang out, I kicked it, girlfriend! I did! Really, I did! She sang, I tried so hard
to escape the bitter taste of my life but I will face this last hurdle unburdened to
meet with my maker sweetly and squarely and zestfully clean.
The last time I saw Rachel she sang rhythmic blues, she sang up a new gospel,
she kissed me full on the mouth. She sang Swing Lo Triumphe! a pitch perfect
crystalline cry, she pierced the heavens with song, my brave sister Rachel, and I
never saw Rachel again.