GHOSTS

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Walking through the Marigny at 6:45 a.m.

Morning clouds are a thick gray cap

on the skull of the day.

Streets, empty.

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,

swallowed up

by the metal whine of an unseen garbage truck.

Ghosts.

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.

A record.

A witnessing.

A voice.

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.

Ghosts. Ghosts.

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.

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