I am flushed, seated across from him, a forkful of red beans and rice
poised at my mouth, lips parted.
I am staring across the table at Satchmo. Memorizing his big dark grin, very full lower lip, hands dexterous rough and alive on the checkered cloth.
I am wearing a cinch-waist dress, red with tiny white dots. His electric presence is connecting them, these dress dots. This connection is buzzing me in pleasant ways. His full radiance is beamed straight on me and I feel like I have had just the right amount of wine.
I mention the music, stammer some praise. He stands and raises his horn, holds it like a lover. I am almost crying, certainly aching. It was a chance meeting. We could just as easily have missed this moment. He is older, married, always working. Plus he is black and it is not even socially acceptable for me to be here sharing a meal with him. Not in this time where all things are segregated, unless he could unzip his skin and step away from it. Even though he is the kindest genius to ever make a jazz noise.
Before he brings the horn to his lips he looks at me and smiles, not the big public grin in all the filmstrips, but a private, soulful taking in. His eyes are moist and brown, very hungry. He stands and cups his hand around my chin, tilting and peering and seeing all. He smells of marijuana and leather, and sweaty metal buttons. His skin is rough and deep and has evolved, like his callused lip to please his horn.
“I know just what you need.”
He studies my eyes, then plays the notes. And he plays and he plays, the sounds rolling out in full bloom.
And soon the joint is jumpin’.