It Must Be Lester Young
By E. Ethelbert Miller
Saturday in August. Marie is down
from New York.
I take her to see Nagorka, a
psychic on 16th street.
Afterwards we go to the New
Orleans Café. We order fried
catfish and Hurricanes. If you sit
at one of the two
tables near the window people can
see you from outside.
Columbia Road is always busy.
Marie talks about Nagorka.
I spot a few friends. It takes
longer to find an attractive
girl. It's late afternoon. Around
the corner the Sun gallery
is still open. I hardly go there
but since Marie is visiting
I change my mind. She pays for the
catfish and drinks. We
leave a nice tip. For dollars. Our
empty glasses stand
side by side like lovers. Much of
what I remember
about my sister can be painted on
a small canvas. here we
are at a house party. Marie is in
junior high school. I am
eight years old holding a potato
chip and a cup of punch. It's
a big night for my sister. many of
her friends are here. This
night is uneventful but will
change my life. I discover I
can't dance. The music jumps from
the record player splashing
my arms, face and legs. My
sister's friends laugh at my
awkward attempts at moving. I try
to dance. There is a small
stain on Marie's dress. I notice
this as we walk down 18th Street.
We pass three Ethiopian
restaurants and someone who is majoring
in business at Howard. Inside the
Sun Gallery we look at prints
made by Honeywood. I pick-up a
post-card of a famous jazz
musician. It must be Lester Young.