Bayou in Summer
Jesse Graves
   
One entire summer in New Orleans, mornings broke open like fresh eggs, cracked and spilled into a blue bowl of sky. 
 
I drank coffee over the kitchen sink, watching sunlight glisten over dewy roof shingles of houses as far north as the Fairgrounds. 
 
Some days I smelled the horses making their early sprints. Third floor apartment of the tallest house on Crete Streetó
 
I could see the pressbox and the empty top row of bleachers. 
 
By noon the heat was a second suit of clothes, and by three the first drops of rain sizzled on the sidewalks. 
 
A storm would erupt, then subside just as quickly, the dead crustacean smell swirling, and finally the air cool enough to breathe again.
 
Then one day I awoke to rattling glass, and the quiet morning had crossed over. Clouds rolled in the color of concrete. 
 
The electricity blinked out with the first wave of thunder and I watched as lightning skipped across the city.
 
Water stood and rippled in the street for an hour then streamed off underground.
 
Nothing moved on Esplanade as I crossed toward Bayou St. Johnó Saturday, ten AM and already the air ruptured.
 
I could smell coffee and bread at CCís, where I stopped but didnít go in, walking instead up DeSoto, past Lesís house, past Chris and Kimís.
 
A man opened a fence and carried some branches to the curb, shrugging and smiling.
 
The Bayou never gleamed as it curled through Mid-City, but this morning the bowels of every Mississippi River tributary south of Minnesota seemed flushed into New Orleans.
 
The hurricane was two years away, but I could see the future in miniature spinning upstream in the murkó 
 
Dry socket of a war just begun, blood and oil swirling together, no child left behind, and across town the Ninth Ward strapped to the mast of a sinking ship.
 
A mud-slaked turtle swiveled past in the current, dragged into the light, like the whole floor of the river had been swept up, with no place to settle but the back of my throat.
      

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