Tuesday, November 3, 2009

We Can Remember (Poem)

We Can Remember

We can remember

wafting roasting chicory root
steam-driven cafe au lait
beignets by fistfuls
on a randy French corner.

We can remember

serendipity's tune
getting loose from back pockets
in a Bourbon Street dive

and Jean Lafitte look-alikes
making the rounds
as day broke day
by day.

We can remember

a jumble of shrimps and crabs
oysters and crawfish
curried and bisqued
for a magician's pittance
— or a dreamy pirate's scowl.

We can remember

white columns stretching
to hold the shade for
southern belles' beauty
on morns too-bright
with hissing Bayou heat.

We can remember

the storm coming
the water rising
the levees crumbling
the refinery leaking
the wondering squall
of need

for everything
worth having.

We can remember

watching eyes watching
for hope
getting lost in hope
never arriving

early enough
or at all.

We can remember

granting no claim
on those who
could forget
would still forget
do forget

a city
a ward
a block
a house
a home

troubled by mud
mold-stormed and mucked
stuck in the caw of
some southern politician's memories.

We can remember

it was a place to be

where po' boys
might speak
some lazy approximation
of French

and delicate young ladies
wave triangles
of fine lace hankies
to their suitors' sway.

We can remember

New Orleans

as it never will be

where a river channeled
gained its own control
over man's made things

and not even bleach
could recover
what water rinsed
what water washed
what water wasted

a city
a ward
a block
a house
a home

left behind

for the asking.

Copyright 2009 Maureen E. Doallas. All Rights Reserved.

I wrote this poem for today's Blog Carnival. Our prompt was the word "remember". To see more contributions, which will be added throughout the day, click here.


Glynn said...

I couldn't write this -- too painful for this native of New Orleans. But you told the story. and my heart breaks all over again.

Peter P said...


I'm not a big one for poetry but that was great!

Helen said...

Very moving.
Thank you for reminding me of people who still need prayers.

I have never been to New Orleans, but I cry every time I hear the song Blue Bayou....Since Katrina, the songs meaning has flipped to "you can't go home again..."

Anonymous said...

even stories are poems.
you tell it well.

Anonymous said...

How easy it is to forget what was once such a huge event in our recent history.

Maureen, thank you for writing this so eloquently, and for helping us to 'remember'.

Kathleen Overby said...

Poignant recall of being with a team serving 1st Christmas dinner after Katrina in Biloxi. We thought we were giving them a gift. They gave us a lasting gift of knowing the things that matter are resilience, hope, story and standing shoulder to shoulder in the trench. I'm crying remembering the beautiful people who honored us with their strength and courage. When I go through a tough spot, I remember their resolve to get up and build again.

When I asked what they needed most from us, their answer surprised me. They wanted to be able to tell their story, get a hug and know that they gave us something. In that order.

Anonymous said...

I like it! I saw your comment over on Bonnie's blog, and as a fellow Maureen (and Mo) I had to come on over and say hello!!!! :)

katdish said...

Oh my gosh! That was amazing. Speechless.

Marni said...

That was...stunningly beautiful. Bless you for sharing it.

Bernadette Pabon ,Teacher, Director of CCD, Author said...

Forgetting or remembering, two amazing words. Thank you for remindng me of the suffering of others, we must never forget suffering, I am in awe at your post. God bless you for your gift of sensitivity