by Angeliska on August 30, 2007
The calendar tilted and swung and we found ourselves
back in New Orleans in August, two years afterwards..
Rolling in on a golden afternoon, sun pulsing a steady
white-hot drumbeat as we drove down familiar streets.
Hello old neighborhood, devoid of neighbors- everyone
out of town, left for good, or hiding indoors from the merciless heat.
Isn’t she a doll? Steamin’ hot cherry pie!
In honor of her birthday, we drank Pimm’s cups
and ate at Café Atchafalaya-
After, we repaired to The Delachaise
for Licor 43 and lemongrass daiquiries-
I wish I’d known what a wonderful place it was
when I lived in New Orleans! It’s a wee little
streetcar pellet of a gourmet restaurant and wine bar-
everything is oh so delicious and cozy there.
This is what I saw before I stumbled off to dreamland.
I awoke, however, to a beautiful sight; Miss Pocketmouse’s accordion!
This cabinet beckoned to me from the ferny sunporch.
I tried to strap it to my back and run away, but I was halted
by a flock of screeching flying monkeys. Damn.
Come morning, only iced yerba-mate with coconut syrup could turn me
back into a dryad from the twisted gnarl of branches I had become.
Onward to Z’otz to visit with
lovely Miss Kelly and John Burr and visit my woodland wonderland,
the best place in the world to have a nice pee.
The all butterflies agree.
We drove by my old house. Looks like they’re finally fixing the roof.
It still looks so desolate, moldy and rotten to the core.
All the trees are gone, though tiny succulent stowaways
from my potted plants are growing through
the waterlogged wood on the balcony.
From nothing, comes something.
On our way out of town we made a very important stop here
at WASH DRY FOLD on Elysian Fields
to see Mr. Kim, my friend and teacher.
The last time I was there, it was dark inside-
all of his washing machines and dryers had been stolen.
The laundry is up and running again,
and it’s peaceful and clean inside.
Go there and wash your clothes-
If you’re lucky, Mr. Kim might read your palm,
or maybe he’ll tell you about what happens
in the afterlife, or how to honor your ancestors..
Always remember to look for your mentors
and guides in the most unlikely places-
that’s where you’ll find them!
He’s there still, with his altar and incense
and empty woolen glove,
with his uncommon wisdom and kindness.
He smacked the folding table and told me to sit,
and took my hand and looked-
he said, “If you do good things,
you live long time. That’s it – do good things, okay?”
We took this picture, and then he made me leave
before we both started crying.
I hope we will go to Cambodia one day.
Two years, y’all.
I still have hope.
I’m so proud of everyone that’s come back
and is sticking it out – sometimes I wish
I could be one of them. Of course.
It was so good to see my lovelies there,
getting by, working hard, making it happen-
but no doubt about it- it’s hard, hard to live
in post Katrina New Orleans, in August.
It’s hard to feel that the world has forgotten about you.
Be sure to watch parts 2 and 3 as well, okay?
Also, this is absolutely incredible:
It’s a comic called A.D. – New Orleans After the Deluge,
a true story by Josh Neufeld,
and it’s totally mindblowing.
Reading it affected me almost more
than any of the films I’ve seen,
or articles I’ve read.
Someone said to me today,
“Oh wow, today’s the anniversary, huh?
It’s been four years now – right?”
It wasn’t that long ago, not for the people
who are still living it, week to week.
It’s not just about one day-
it’s every day.
If you want to know more, and help
here are some organizations doing good work:
Common Ground Collective