We park in the multitude and
tread a serpentine path,
the bricks spelling out a long Arabic
word at our feet.
Clouds of fireflies,
mint green in the hedge,
a royal escort.
Finally the door, a Roman arch,
slabs of walnut,
brass knocker with a unicorn.
Three raps bring a baby in a
tuxedo, talking very much like an adult.
Did you bring the matchbooks?
Desmond digs into his jacket and
holds them like playing cards,
Thai restaurants in
Brooklyn, Boston, Baltimore.
Excellent. Come in.
He takes us to a room occupied by a
black baseball player, a small
woman disguised as a large man,
and a horse with a yo-yo.
Greetings, says the horse.
Hi, says I.
Desmond is recalcitrant.
The horse performs two round-the-
worlds followed by a sleeper,
neighing with glee.
Baby tells me you have a question.
Yes, says Desmond.
Wait, says Desmond. I wrote it down.
He takes the matchbook from
Baltimore and studies it carefully.
What, says he, is it all about?
All? says the horse.
It? says the ballplayer.
The small large man woman is noncommital.
About, says Desmond.
The horse pricks up his ears exactly
like Sean Connery would if
Sean Connery were a horse and
scrunches his eyes to convey the
impression that he is deep in thought.
Then he relaxes, and smiles.
It’s about raspberries.
Raspberries? says I. Why raspberries?
Why not raspberries?
says the ballplayer.
A billiard table slides into the room,
piled high with raspberries.
Our hosts dig in as
if their lives depended on it.
I exchange a glance with
Desmond and we join the fray.
The smacking of lips resembles a
large flock of small birds,
if those birds were eating raspberries.
The berries are ripe to the
point of liquefaction,
sweet beyond comprehension.
Our hands turn purple as we
shovel them into our mouths.
Mr. Horse, says he.
Call me Byzantine Chrysanthemum Funkadelic.
These appear to be blackberries.
Byzantine Chrysanthemum Funkadelic stops.
Dark juice drips from his snout,
largely for dramatic effect.
In that case, says he.
It’s all about blackberries.
From the collection Fields of Satchmo
Photo by MJV