A New Orleans appreciation

I wrote this after Katrina wrecked New Orleans, drawn on a trip I’d taken there some time ago. Has nothing to do with football or the Super Bowl, but a lot to do with affection for the place.

NEW ORLEANS, 2005

It has always made me happy
that the river by my banks
runs south to you,
toward good times and
one last fling before
heading out to sea.

I liked to come to you
and say “Tchoupitoulas Street,” and
“Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez.”
I recall the taste of warm beignets
in morning wrapping their arms around
the lingering burn of bourbon.

Once beneath your streetlights,
I stared for a long time
through a gallery window
at a painting of wildflowers
in a graveyard.
A girl came out
of the locked door
with short black hair
and gulf blue eyes
and kissed me,
leaving red azalea on my cheek.
Then she smiled and walked away.

I wondered, when I saw the water,
where she went.
I always remember her
when I think of you —
a kiss in the night
that fades to dream by morning.
I wonder if she
still can smile, or you,
and whether wildflowers
still grace the graveyards
in the sunrise.

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