Allyson Lima

House Musicians: Allyson Lima

House Musicians 

I only knew her by the music
Spied on her from behind the door
Pale fingers poised above black
And ivory keys—hold the low tones—
Flutter down cascading phrases

The falling leaves drift by my window
The autumn leaves of green and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sunburned hands I used to hold

She plays Nat King Cole but it’s her song too

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Who is that guy? I ask when she hangs a portrait
5×7 black and white in the hallway
Dapper bow-tied entertainer, piano player
His Hollywood gaze could stop you cold

Her music was no sing along
No Mitch no Bing no bedtime lullaby

Hers were the jazz riffs
Cubist tone fragments
Music undone broken notes smoky
Drifts shifting in air—dark dreams
caught on vinyl

Records of survived betrayals
Broken beats—lives revived
In low-lit smoky rooms
Blackhawk Blue Note urban clubs
And her glassed in living room

Cal Tjader’s red hot vinyl beats
Antonio Carlos Jobim’s guitar with
Brazilian accent—Latin’s catching on
Las Vegas nightclubs—Louis Prima Keely Smith
Ahmad Jamal’s Cry Young and

Not one single musical—no post-war feel good South Pacific
No Oklahoma where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain
To blow away the 1950’s suburban housewife blues
But Ray Charles—Ruby and Georgia on My Mind to break your heart

Dad comes home—whiskey breath
Swings her ‘round the kitchen keepin’ the beat
One hand stuck down the back of her French blue
Stretch pants—no Jack no! she protests eyes sparkling
Singing along with Ray Hit the Road Jack

We didn’t know he would really go
Never guessed they would take new
Lovers—found the love letter in her
Lingerie drawer—musician too

Distant mystery mother of four
My younger sisters don’t remember
Her—ask me what she was like
Died in the hospital age 42
After a routine operation

Some say she died of suicide

I say it was a slow dance
In the wrong generation
For a woman like her
Who lived in music and
Couldn’t get enough.