>New Orleans Recapitulation

>New Orleans’ geography is inimical to its well being. Located at the delta of the Mississippi, it was a regional port of entry, and strategically placed for the distribution of goods along the waterways of the United States. In turn, it was also the city on the Gulf of Mexico, and arguably the Southern U.S. Today it has been replaced as a regional center by Miami, whose geographic location on America’s wang allows for the reach into Latin America that generations of Cubans have appreciated. I heard it called Norlins more often than Nawlins, but anyway you pronounce it, the city has felt the devastation of rising water levels, giving literal meaning to the old saying, “Come hell or high water.” I spoke to some residents selling beer on Esplanade, which is a beautiful oak lined boulevard that takes you right to the French Quarter. They said that they live in a fishbowl, because the dykes that surround the city give way in Hurricanes, which is why even the fire hydrants four or five feet high. Needless to say, in its age, it has immense culture. The unique idiolect includes words like laignappe, and picayune demonstrating the blend of African, French, and American influences. This is a musical sample of the old blind mouth harper, Grampa Elliot:

The following was composed in Napoleon House, 500 Chartres St., New Orleans, Louisiana:

The Half-Loves

Memories of beloveds, now gilded
In the cool, evening sunshine of my mind,
Decay in dead silence, ivy strangled,
Covered in the soft, green mosses of time,
While I, a tourist, wander the cold streets,
Watching shadows lengthen, enfolded in black sheets
And study for clues these ruined sculptures of mine.

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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