Café au Lait

Even after Katrina we carried on digging up our dead. Old Nawlins demanded it, New Nawlins honoured it. So did Old Vic.

Nawlins café au lait ain’t made, it’s growed. So: spring and winter we dig our dead, spring and winter we wash they bones.

These days we don’t dig deep; most of the topsoil’s sand now, and drifts round Galveston, susurrating with grief (if you’d been to Galveston, you’d grieve, too). Still, we inherited a new island off the coast.

Then there’s Old Vic — a worldwide rarity; who ever saw a chickory tree? Rare enough, but how bout one uprooted and dropped slap bang in the middle of an island? We took it as a bon augure and carry on the custom regardless, before he’s harvested.

These past 8 years I’ve often thought the soil — that flesh — must’ve been trapped behind those roots and the island growed from there. That old bastard growed too, though how he throve on salt water I don’t know, but that’s where the bone washing takes place; 36,000 Nawliners paddle out there, wash them bones, then return them to the grave.

2005 was cold; ground even froze. Hard to dig frozen bones, so I let my sweetheart be. Every year since, we been visited by tragedy. I ain’t mean Bush, or Trump; I’m talking bout wrath. We wash them bones, pour the water over Old Vic’s roots as always, but I guess I broke the charm.

Each year those blamey Nawlins fingers aim pointier at me. They got in they heads something bout me, so here they put me, up in Old Vic with a length of vine looped around my neck, ‘bout to do the Nawlins gallows jig.

Next time you have some Nawlins coffee, mayhap you’ll taste me, too.

Leave a Reply