I lived for a short while in New Orleans, and there’s a bit of the city that’s always stayed with me: something of the rhythms of life there and a sense of magic and wonder and escape–some might say it has something to do with voodoo, perhaps, but for me, it’s always been a feeling of possibility. That was nearly thirty years ago, but the city has continued to offer that experience to me, even during a year when a long weekend in the French Quarter has been a pandemic impossibility. I wrote the first draft of these poems fifteen years ago during one of those visits, and even though I now know the future that followed these moments, they still hold open a door for me of what might be, what could be.
Seeing Louis Armstrong Park late last Tuesday.
we’re laughing hand-holding walking up
St. Ann, curb-balancing
& dodging sidewalk holes & hold-
ing tight to keep from falling
& it’s the first, you say, the on-
ly time you’ve seen in any
of these nights we’ve spent roaming
this dark unlonely city
the hotel around the corner calls
but we stop / transfixed
by the distant lighted archway
a white rainbow against
a silhouette of oaks
Vieux Carre magic.
we walk across bending pavement
through the Vieux Carre
& you turn to me & say
that we should make our home here
because this place changes me somehow
& I smile because I know
but I wonder if the Cajun voodoo magic
of this place would be the same
or if there’s magic in distance
voodoo in separation & detachment
from the responsibilities of every day
that we call home
is the spell of this place
the magic of unhome
or the magic of a home that isn’t?
& I wonder if tables were turned
would the magic be a sunny beachside getaway
where we would leave these broken
streets these broken street vendors
these broken bottles that crunch beneath
our feet & flee the Vieux Carre
Troy Urquhart is the editor of Willows Wept Review and the author of Springtime Sea Bathing (Greying Ghost Press, 2010). His work has appeared in publications including PANK, The Inflectionist Review, Dodging the Rain, Twentieth-Century Literature, Mud Luscious, and English Journal. Find him online at www.troyurquhart.com.