Monday, March 17, 2008

The Lower 9th

I think I've run the emotional gauntlet since being in New Orleans. I feel a sense of pride knowing that some of my roots lie here. I feel angry that in a car ride of about ten minutes I can see a fully rebuilt Starbucks and then a house that looks the same way it did right after the hurricane. Most of all I feel lost. Walking around the lower 9th was pretty surreal for me, mostly because the first stop was my Grandma Pat's house or at least what's left of it (her blue stairs). I knew this neighborhood, I'd slept in that house, eaten, laughed, cryed in that house. I think what struck me most is that growing up I didn't know that this was a poor neighborhood. I didn't know that the levee was a block from her house. The lower 9th was pretty much all I knew of New Orleans in terms of how people lived. It wasn't until we were driving into town that I saw the Garden District and the disparties between rich poor for myself. It's amazing to me to think that small part of who I am is gone. That house, or rather land, has been owned by my family for over 50 years and I'm not sure what my Aunt or my Dad are going to do with it, but I kind of hope that they rebuild. There's a history there and a community. I'm at a loss of what to think about the tragedy here except to say that in a strange way it's allowed me to reconnect with people I love and bring back some memories I thought I'd forgotten.


In Memory of Patricia Lindsey Anthony
5/29/1941- 9/9/07:

I come from large
leather Lincoln seats &
oldies playing in the
background. From
down south heat
& 10 hour car rides
to crack crabs on
linolium kitchen
floors. I come from
single parent, “broken”
family apartments
& hushed whispers
in the dark.
I come from crisp
Bible thumped pages
& women with hats
big enough to block
out the sun.

I come from an
invisible father &
a barely there
brother. From
rock playgrounds &
dust clouds.
I come from
wide open spaces
& long idle bike rides
down pre-plotted paths.

I come from
sturdy irish stock
that doesn’t show
in my features.
From southern hospitality
that seeps from my soul


Javier said...

Hey Patrice,

Thanks for sharing such personal memories and your poem. I'm glad you are down in New Orleans doing this work...Keep up this meaningful work.


Anonymous said...

Loved the poem! It is stirring and beautiful. Though the poet's words tell me much about her, I want to hear more from this soulful person.

Anonymous said...

Patrice and all, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings as you are there doing your work. I will be visiting New Orleans with a gorup of middle school students in early April and I am anxious about it. It helps me to hear what you are seeing and how you are coping. I will look forward to talking with you when you return!