Cousin time, and aunt time,
and each summer a week
in the Ninth Ward (the Lower Ninth)
the grocery with the frozen cups
of flavored ice and smelling like
a farmer’s market, the floor
never swept, and the levee
holding back the Industrial Canal.
We’d walk the levee to see
the steamboat houses sitting like
beached boats, captain-less but
with cupolas and widow’s walk intact.
And movies downtown: reached
by the St. Claude Avenue bus;
shotgun houses with fig trees
and pet cemeteries and Margie
across the street and Sam
the Great Dane in the backyard.
Each house had two or three
or four stories
This is another in a series of poems about growing up in the South, suggested by my friend Nancy Rosback.
Photograph: House on Dauphine Street, Lower Ninth Ward, Holy Cross Neighborhood, New Orleans. My mother was born in a house like this one.