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February 19, 2024

Walking Man

By Frederick Foote

Sun beating hell out the shade, flaying every living thing.

Drawing wet salvation at the well. Hands on the rope. Eyes on the road. Arms pulling. Shoulders willing.'

He come tall down the middle of the oven of a road. Walking. A walking faster smile when he see me.

He be black. Nappy head and all that. White teeth smile. Big bright eyes tease me. Say he, "You be my cool drink of water on a desert day, my warm cover on a cold night." Words popping like water in hot grease.

I frown deep down, hiss at his flapping lips, My words burst like boiling soup bubbles. "You don't know me well enough to say good day. Draw your drink. Be on your way."

He not offended or obedient. "Oh, I know you. You got lightning in your eyes, thunder at the tip of your tongue. You waiting for someone to storm on. Right. Am I right?" His words melting dripping into the dust.

I spit fireballs. "Walk on. Begone before my thunder make you deaf and my lightning make you blind. Step on off."

He laugh loud. Crackling loud. Pull the rope. Raise the bucket. Empty it into my vessel. Into me. Trying to show me how he fill my emptiness on this relentless boiling day. His working hands lift my water pot to his shoulder. He look at me to lead the way.

The sun curses and blesses us with its furnace breath under our clothes.

He lean to my ear. Whisper. "My oasis. My watering hole." His laugh sizzles in the crackling air.

"I have a man. A man of the land. Not a vagabond. Solid. Sane." Sunshine frying the words out my mouth.

He say, "Safe. Same. Tame. The same tame game. He always be the same." He smile. Touch me with the warm perfume of his breath.

"Nigger, you don't know who you talking to. Put down my pot. Get. Follow the road."

He lean. Lean in close. Lick the sweat from my nose, chin, warm breath in my mouth, up my nose.

Somebody say, "Don't stop." Some wanton harlot. Fast and loose hussy. I look around for the brash hot-blooded bitch.

I'm distracted. That's how he got to lick my throat, threaten my mouth with his tongue.

"Quit that stuff! People see. You ruin me." Each word a firecracker bang. Home. I be safe at home.

He follow. A stray dog bringing his own bone.

Say he, "Your motion like a beacon, like a banner, like an invitation to the rolling sea." Seething words.

"To the door. Only to the door. You can't enter --" Gritty, dry touch, sand blasting, wind words.

Sly in his voice, "Open doors. I only enter doors open wide for me. Welcoming tight, sweet, doors. Only those doors. I don't trespass. Not me. No need to." Scalding me with his words.

"So, say you. Ain't you scared of my thunder and lightning?" Melted metal words.

"The shape of your bosom, the fullness of your hips, I would brave any storm for the pleasures between your thighs, the softness of your sighs, the delight in your eyes." Lava flowing words.

In the shade of my doorway. "My man could catch ... I mean ... he could get the wrong idea you toting my water ..." The heat. It must be the heat.

"I'm not here to hurt or harm. We need the storm. You need it. I need it. He'll reap the rewards." A forest fire of lies.

"What you say?" A match head exploding into flames.

He laugh a well toasted outburst. "A storm renews, you know?"

"Slip in my door quickly." Heat stroke. I got it for sure.

We turn up a different heat. I open every door each window. Fuels my flames. Drown him in my volcano juices. Resurrect him. Scorch him. Fill his ears with my thunder. Fricassee and fry him. Meet, match, overwhelm his needs. Bake him grill him.

Send him on down the road into the storm on the horizon. Walking fast. Smiling. But not leaving all together. He leaving a seed here. He turned me into a seer. I see the baby walking into a walking man walking to another woman at another well.

I think on it. And I think that's alright with me.

Article © Frederick Foote. All rights reserved.
Published on 2019-07-29
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