Walking through the Marigny at 6:45 a.m.
Morning clouds are a thick gray cap
on the skull of the day.
Gutter puddles hold tight to Sunday night’s revels:
plastic cup shards, scattered like teeth knocked from an angry mouth
a strand of abandoned beads,
pale blue constellation calling from a dirty sidewalk sky,
Don’t forget me
Passing Frenchmen’s Street, the last stretched note of a
Dixieland trumpet lingers,
by the metal whine of an unseen garbage truck.
Everything is an explosion of color here.
Bright-aqua doors. Maroon wind chimes.
Mustard-yellow trim slapped along the drooping slats of falling shutters.
The defiance of a pink house, Who Dat?
Old brick beauty, a courtesan in decline,
her fading bricks striated by a history of floods.
Nothing is erased.
There is the you now carrying within
the you that has walked these streets before
Young and broken
Drunk and sober
Alone and not
Lost and searching
A St. Jude prayer card, random
gift of a strung-out Bourbon Street stranger
tucked into a pocket, pressing against
the raw, grasping hope of your fingers.
The town a forgiving mother, cradling you to its bosom.
At the intersection of Royal and Elysian Fields,
where Stanley cried for Stella,
close your eyes for just a moment.
Hear the faint rumble of a long-gone street car
carrying Memory as its passenger.
You wait for the green signal, a safe crossing.
Up ahead, there’s a break in the early morning rain clouds,
a thin pink mouth slowly opening up
in a fat shout of light.
The sun coming through.
As it will.
As it does.