local_library The Woman’s Song

by Aretta Jones

Published in Issue No. 186 ~ November, 2012

She begins by singing an aria

up on 52nd street, right between

the second hand store and the flea bitten dog

tied up outside the Chinese fish market, his ragged bark

setting the tone to her song like a bruised drum.

She is singing in soprano, and although she is dressed

in her one best dress, this is not an oratorio;

there is no church; she has so religion. Her voice

soars out through the treetops and ascends

the high rise building on 54th. A man

in his best suit stands at the window

on the tenth floor and hears the woman,

the full richness of her aching desire, her round

notes as big as cherries, reaching as wide

as one heart to the next. For a second

the man is lost in her song

and he forgets about the double-

sided papers that have piled up on his desk,

the smell of bitumen from

the building’s newly installed roof, his wife

at home with another man, tangled

in the sheets of their new California

King. He forgets about the pain

and regret, forgets about responsibility,

his obligatory duties listed

on the white board hanging against the wall.

The woman’s voice dips low, slow and steady,

warm and thick, pouring out over the streets

and through the alleyways. The man

thinks of his boyhood

and hot chocolate on rain drenched days,

of evenings with his mother at the fire,

that first good taste of French merlot his only time

in Paris; yellow days in the country sun; of love

in the best of times

coursing with nothing short of passion,

through and through his eager bones.

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Aretta's work has appeared in Word Riot, apt, decomP, Superstition Review, Fogged Clarity, Fiction Brigade and others. She has a short story forthcoming in Bloom. She received her Masters of Fine Arts degree in English and Creative Writing from Mills College in Oakland, where she currently resides as a teacher. She is hard at work on a novel.