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October 2008
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corvi [userpic]
shadow of a city

There's another city here, a ghost thing laid over New Orleans like fog and carnival.

You can look at any door and see how many living, and how many dead walked there, animals and waters and flame, shadows of the city that was. You can see where the water was, the intricate stained-glass lines it scrawled on the walls. After a week here, it's all second nature, to look around and see the City That Was, that one day in August frozen here forever.

When we got here, it was Babel to us, jumbled rubble and spraypaint and sidewalks that unravel into nothing. But it's like learning to read. One day you look around and realize all those wierd black shapes mean something, amke letters and words and music; one day you look around and realize you can see the people and the light and the waters, the City That Was curled around your shoulders.

When we're clearing a house, I find myself absent-mindedly turning mirrors to the wall, like I'm not quite sure which I'd see in them, the ghost city, or the city that goes on breathing. caladri finds a note behind a mirror, some long-forgotten prayer from the City that Was.

We're done now, and back on the road towards home. Working here was painful and uplifting by turns, transcendant and ashen.

We'll be back. You should come too.

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: thunderstorm outside

Even that first day, we remarked that the crosses on every door and (in places lucky enough) sidewalk were like sacred. Today I found myself helping that old woman who barely made it out in time learn to read the hieroglyphs, as everyone else so appropriately seems to've styled them. You look across the neutral ground and see a convenience store here or there, built solid and maybe even up on higher ground, and you see the count of people alive soar to something like 18 - everyone had run and swum as far as they could.

Or the way the hieroglyphs grow organically -- today's "dead dog" and "dog on deck" on houses next to eachother. People stealing the old iron bars. You wonder how long that roof or car has been sitting there rotting.

I don't know, honestly, how we're going to go home. How can you find the road home in a city without street signs?

Beautifully written. Well spoken. May I link to this in hopes of reaching others?

The City That Was - yeah. She speaks to me as much as the City That Is. I don't know if you spent much time in the Lower Ninth, but there, she's palpable, the ghost city. Calendars on August 2005. In the 8th Ward, near the House of Excellence, a school - registration on August 19, 2005. Six Flags in New Orleans East, closed for storm. Ruined McDonald's - houses. Images that will haunt me for a while.

But its also the heart... and a few things I could tell you were we talking on AIM of F2F, but not in a journal comment.

I learned to read the hieroglyphics, too. It is a language - the City That Was is still talking to us.

I think she's asking us to help heal the City That Is... and to do what we can so it doesn't happen again.

You know what emotion I felt more than any other though, right alongside the anger? Love. Can you wrap your mind around that one?

> May I link to this in hopes of reaching others?

Sure. I'm honored.

afraid to intrude.

Thank you for sharing this.

Thank you.

in some traditions, mirrors are covered or turned backwards not because of what you might see, but to remove temptation from those who might otherwise look out.

I remember hearing somewhere that in another tradition, a mirror is a symbol of vanity, and covered because it's inappropriate at a time of mourning.

I was intending on going this summer, now that I have actual vacation time again, probably with Habitat for Humanity. When were you planning on going back?