Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Razing

When the floodwaters receded houses
were swept up and hauled off and the people
–some–came home from miles away. They were there
to stay. And all around New Orleans,
nothing done, and years later, nothing done . . .
That’s enough bitchin’, Adore said to Belle.

Adore’s lover Juan, many years younger,
grand nephew of her late husband Ira,
went for a walk while the two women talked
about who they were, who they’d been, would want
to be . . . Juan didn’t want to hear all that,
his brother Paolo and whore Georgia
left Peggy’s house to go to Jackson Square,
where Juan bought cafe au lait, three beignets,
and asked Georgia about Betsy, "my whore,"
he called her, and Georgia told him Betsy
missed him. Ah, it was good to feel desired
by a woman his age, even if she . . .

Juan was missing Chicago. He needed
Chicago. But never would Chicago
and New Orleans meet. City woman,
he would say, you are the last of all loves,
I want you to know. This voice in his head,
how do you get it to go upriver?

After the razing came the spill. Adore
told Belle you could at least rebuild, the oil
would just goo up the bottom of the gulf
and kill everything down there, till up here
the catch would diminish, the tourists stay
away. Belle didn’t think that would happen:
That’s not what came down in Alabama . . .
and they talked late into the afternoon,
the city’s street lamps beginning to light,
the sounds changing, the voices, the music
picking up, and Juan coming home to say
it was time he walked Belle back to Rocky’s.

Then almost sober, Juan went off to work.
Ray was still drinking. He wanted his wife
to go. How could she? She had her home here.
His mother’s house, God rest her ancient soul.
Ray wished Juan luck working his shift tonight:
There were many tourists in The Saloon.

(13 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

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