Could this be my grave? Was there a second line dance to celebrate my life? Did a rescue team even find me? Did my parents stand here, and weep over my remains, that will soon turn to dust? And tourist will walk by, and take pictures of my tombstone because it’s fascinating to see my last marker in life, above ground. Did my children survive the hurricane? They were downstairs, eating breakfast together at the kitchen table before the storm came through and ripped us apart. Or did I have to flee to the rooftop of our home and find them later, face down, floating corpses, in filthy water?
Where is F.E.M.A.? New Orleans, that’s home for me.
What about life, is there life on the other side of death? I could’ve done better with the time I was given here on earth. Is my spirit in heaven? Or, did I not complete God’s assignment, here on earth and now, I must live in hell?
New Orleans, that’s home for me.
When the levees broke, that stopped life for me. I had just turned 25, my life wasn’t in the most stabled place, I was supposed to be on Bourbon Street, listening to all of the blues and jazz bands, the sounds of Wynton Marsalis and Fats Domino. Walking to the sounds of the street bands and drinking a drink called Hurricane or the finest whiskey, but the waters from Hurricane Katrina, overtopped the levees and killed my dreams.
New Orleans, that’s home for me.
The news reporter said that the levees broke, but word on the streets said that, because of my skin tone, I am no longer welcomed here, by the government. This is, my home, and whatever the cause was that broke the levees, I am now a refugee in my own home of New Orleans, 11 years later. There are no longer wood panels, sunrooms, flowers, “Ujamaa” which means family hood in Swahili…..now it’s just stairs with no foundation or bricks that made it a home, or signs of life that someone once lived there. There’s no more children outside playing, no one laughing. Now there’s more poverty, crime rates continuously increasing, sex trafficking of young black girls, in 2005 over 12,000 people were living with HIV due largely to illegal drug injections to cope with survival post Katrina, homelessness because they had no home to return to.
Where’s F.E.M.A.? New Orleans, that’s home for me.
Did I have a husband? I wonder if he was Creole, or African descent? Were we happy living under the hot sun as he opened the door to my soul by saying to me, “My bride, you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes. Don’t stir up love. Don’t wake it up until it’s ready” ……….. as we made love on Royal Street, where we thought no one could see us.
I would never be able to taste the good ‘ol New Orleans cuisines, seasoned in spices. My lips will never touch a catfish Po’ Boy, gumbo, red beans and rice, crawfish etouffee or raise my pinky finger as I sip my coffee at Café De Monde and eat beignets.
New Orleans, is home for me.
The sun shines it’s face on my community. That’s Mr. Avery, he could’ve been my neighbor his skin is just like mine, but now, I see bicycles because the new millennials live here now and have taken over, and no longer making us feel like this is our community. We now share the streets of New Orleans with them because they said they were coming here to help us rebuild our city but the more I travel down the streets of New Orleans, I no longer see, neighbors with skin like mine.
New Orleans, I’m coming home.