A Riff for Sidney Bechet

Listen to Stanley Moss reading this poem. That night in Florence, forty-five years ago, I heard him play like “honey on a razor,”he could get maple syrup out of a white pine, out of a sycamore, out of an old copper beech. I remember that summer Michelangelo’s marble naked woman’s breasts, reclining Dawn’s nipples— exactly like the flesh I ached for. How could Dawn behind her clouds hurt me? The sunrise bitch was never mine. He brought her down. In twelve bars of burnt sugar, she was his if he wanted her.