Friday, April 3, 2009

“I could never remember / That seething, steady leveling of the marshes / Till age had brought me to the sea.” New Orleans: Part I of III

I just returned from seeing fellow MFAers Anne-Marie and Kelly of Post-MFA fame in New Orleans a week ago today. We’re inseparable. We’re still shifting around in the fetal position, mainly. And missing our third of the three, Trina.

New Orleans involved various encounters with bodies of water. Yes, this is not a shock. And yes, it served as a reminder of New Orleans’ resiliency. Some of these personal encounters were permanent and expected (Mississippi River, the nature trail in Houma, LA), some uninvited and smelly. And all ominous enough to be perfect backdrop for the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival and the ensuing moisture-laden events.

Let’s get the anecdotes out of the way. Cars flooded. Kelly’s car in particular. She will always have a little piece of LA with her no matter where she is. Water stays with you. It levels with you. Literally. Up to the cup holders. It doesn’t let you go.

Cars routinely flip over in front of or somewhere in the vicinity of the following items: Street lights. Stop signs. Streetcars. Other cars. The cops did not appear phased. I take this as a sign that disorder is still accepted and encouraged. Louisiana, you grew on me.

Large cockroaches with horrible antennae can only be killed with a shoe. This is why Clorox surface cleaner was invented.

I saw a lot of stuff askew. I also went for the literary mingling. Well, okay, I went to watch other people mingle while I sat in the back of the classroom.

Months ago I was revved up to take a Master’s class (not as awe-inspiring as the name seems to hint at) with Mark Doty. I’m a big fan of his work, My Alexandria in particular.

Friday morning came and I rushed down the sidewalks of the French Quarter to get there in time. I can’t be late! That’d be rude. No. What was rude, I discovered, was being that one earnest sneaker-squeaker bee lining down the very narrow sidewalk in…the Quarter. People meander, keeping to the left or right or middle as they choose. They very often dare to look up and stop walking to admire goodness knows what. The gall of tourists visiting the very touristy Quarter--on Friday of Spring Break no less! Call me crazy but sidewalks are for getting from one place to the next as quickly as possible. In the heat. In the rain. Move, people, move.

And then the Mark Doty event was cancelled. Family emergency. Well, I felt like a douf. I made it up to myself by spending the next hour hanging out in the Quarter walking slowly, respecting everyone else and even stopping to check out the pirates, musicians, smelly bars and doughnuts.

(The titular lines are from Hart Cranes’ “Repose of Rivers”)

1 comment:

Kelly Kathleen Ferguson said...

Next flood I'm grabbin' Chicken Ravenstock and headed for higher ground.