Stopping for Breakfast in Slidell
The Vietnamese po’boys shop is closed
on Sundays, so Kent & Lauren and I bottom out
into the gravel lot of an off-road gumbo shack
done up with string lights and once painted
the white of knick-knack angels. Today holds
what’s last of September: the sky a French
blue, grass yellowing as though with chicken
fat, the smells of sugared meat and dripping
links. Inside, plastic Jack-o-lanterns and straw-
poke dolls grin from windowsills, the russet
and ochre that won’t wholly stain a Louisiana
fall. Kids in Tigers shirts draw with Crayon
stubs on paper table covers while the Saints’
pregame buzzes on the radio and the deep-fryers
splutter and hum. Lauren orders herself a little
country gumbo, Kent a croissant sandwich, me
some French toast and pink sausage. Kent pays.
We three sit on the porch with two coffees
and a Barq’s in Styrofoam cups, and it’s the closest
I have been to peaceful in so long. You once told
me, when you wished to rid me from your life:
People fall apart. This happens. I am not a child.
Down the road Kent’s sisters once wrecked
their daddy’s car after getting tanked at the Daiquiris
& Creams. Down the road, Lauren says, Katrina
once battered this town to not much left but nail
salon sprawl and gas stations hoping to get you gone.
She tells me, it’s the water that does some, we know,
but mostly, it’s the wind. It’s what the heart learns to
stop missing: the pushing through, that pressing clean.
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