Here Nor There
BY CLINT SMITH
New Orleans is a bouquet of pixilated memories.
A caravan of embers that refuse to turn to ash.
I have tried to write these poems before, you know,
the ones about the infamous storm & its majestic
violence. The flood water that swallowed a city
& then sat still as night.I think often of the things
it took from us that we’ll never know we could
have had. Counterfactuals have always been a bed
of thorns in a room with nowhere else to lay your
head. To imagine what could have been but never
was. The Christmases with my children in the home
where I once opened presents. Kicking a soccer ball
with my daughter against the same playground wall
where I imagined a life of goals & glory. That home
is now silent as a sky of smoke. That wall is no longer
a wall but a smattering of bricks in a lonely field.
I tremble at what I already know is likely, that my
children will not know this city beyond the holidays
& funerals that bring them here. That I no longer
know the city I have always worn like a tattoo.
Nostalgia is a well-intentioned wound. I still remember
the city as something it was kept from becoming.
I am still looking for a language not covered in ash.
I am still mourning the loss of a life that never was.