Stella, After a Miles Davis Song

by: Brian Francis

She walks on a restless wind,
conjured spirits of Isis, Nefertiti, Cleopatra, Phyllis Hyman
Dorothy Dandridge, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone-
Bruised beauty
all rolled into an amber necklace hanging just above her heart.
She danced out to the stuttered beat of my heart.
Figure eights spinning on my tongue, she danced
twirling worlds of words on her string.

Her name was Stella, after Miles Davis’ version
Of Stella, By Starlight.
There is an irony in that I don’t want to touch.
Stella has soft hands, crushed powder in my palm.
A voice that cracks when she gets excited and stirs worlds
in and out of existence when she sings.
Her eyes are a full mooned Saturday night.

Stella loves fireworks and big trees, mango margaritas and big cities,
smiling at strangers, a good book, and camping trips.
Beaches, politics, and kisses on the collar bone.
Stella makes love to moments, because tomorrow comes too quickly
and next thing she’ll know, tomorrow will and be gone.
You might never learn that about her.
Yesterday she learned to hide herself
in the corners of a halfhearted smile.
In her work,
in too many drinks,
in silence.
Maybe then tomorrow won’t come.
Not like it did yesterday.

No, we self-righteous, self-serving, condescending fucks -
she is not our victim or our whore.
Not our charity case or our damaged goods.
Stella hates hesitation in hugs and insincere eyes.
She tries to bear the burden herself
and has her missteps.
Stella is a girl who just wants to feel clean again.
No matter how hard she scrubs
she can’t wipe away the smudged fingerprints
the takers of innocence.

I tiptoed down the creaking corridors,
making sure to walk softly,
trying not to wake any of her sleeping giants.
Giants strategically placed to destroy anyone with impure intentions.
I still walk soft across that corridor floor.

The first door is to her bedroom, slightly ajar I peeked in.
There used to be monsters under her bed
as she got older the monsters got smarter.
Some wore disguises, others just grew bolder.
Now, the monsters are in her bed, hogging the covers.

By starlight, they stole Stella’s story
from the lips of the breaking of a new day.
Blasting holes in her horizon
she holds her hope and her heart behind her silence.

A crime was committed
there were no sirens.
Thieves in the evening seizing moments that she loved so much,
into dirty linen she cried wishing to hear her mother’s lullabies.
That woman, who named her Stella, after a Miles Davis’ version of
Stella By Starlight
with no clue of the irony
sang silence and hid her smile for far too many years
and now Stella has caught on.

In that room I found her
hiding in a corner out of reach,
tears in her eyes, hugging and consoling a small girl
telling her that no matter what the dream was
“You are safe now and you are loved.”

I watched the little girl sitting,
glazed eyes caught in between dreams,
amber necklace hanging just above her heart.
I checked my evils at the door,
sat quietly next to them on that bedroom floor,
waiting to hear Stella, named after a Miles Davis’ version
of her mother’s favorite jazz song
tell her story
by starlight.