Our third day in New Orleans, it snowed for “the third time in 50 years”, the tour guide told us as we sat huddled in his van with a couple from New York City with thick east-coast accents who made snotty remarks about this southern city’s inability to deal with even a light snowfall, all of its daily business grinding to sudden, jarring halt.
On our way to River Road and its array of grand plantation houses, we were turned back. All roads leading out of the city had been closed, deemed too slick and dangerous to be navigated safely. Back at our hotel, we turned on the TV, caught snippets of the local news in the gray place between sex and sleep. Another murder, another rape, another dark day full of betrayals, all the terrible things that even the snow could not stop.
Outside, we walked the quiet, ghostlit streets. You kept the heavy hood of your coat drawn up, begging to be back inside. I wore my hair windswept and wild, feeling happy and lucky to be alive in a city so often untouched by the smooth, white hands of winter. The Cabildo and, in fact, all of Jackson Square, towered over us, rising like a choir of stone angels out of the storm.
I keep these things inside of me, still─ the deserted streets, the lamp posts festooned with holly, the wet sidewalks, the icy churning of the Mississippi, the locals who stood in doorways, dumb with wonder, catching snowflakes on their tongues.
The warmth of your body as you relented, finally, to my boundless joy and kissed me in the narrow swoop of Pirate’s Alley, the wind rushing like the distant moaning of spirits through the frozen tunnels of our ears.