The City, It Breathes

"Jackson Square" - A Prose Poem

Heat kisses my shoulders, sunshine dances on my fingertips as the warm air drips from eaves and iron balconies. Aromas lace the air with the tender touch of temptation, seeking to grace the lips and tongues of patrons pattering outside the storefront windows. 

The blare of brass and sweet-rough tenor voices send their songs skyward amid the click-clack-clattering of camera lenses and teeth-chattering of tourists whose sunglass eyes beg for wonder over the musicians' routine. The Cathedral glows in the light, shaded on one side, striking three o'clock and reminding me of all the times she struck every hour of many a passerby; and her candles burn for those who were lost, and her halls echo with the peace of Heaven and the compassion of saints and sinners who meandered through her doors.

I walk around the corner to the sun-dappled tree-shade and the inspiration of the city paints itself in many colors and imaginations across the black bars of vendors' stalls. A man sits hunched over a typewriter beside his cardboard sign, 'The Dr. Is In', and the sun beats down on his neck and he smiles at me and tells me he loves to write poetry about mothers because it brings tears to his sunny eyes to imagine them living their strong lives.

Wander from the lush garden grove beneath the stallion's hooves to find the riverfront. The Mississippi, with her steam-boats riffing haunting cadences and her waters murky with the mysteries of life and the chemicals of death, she herself takes a slow stroll through the droll of the cars on her bridges and down-and-up, America's first highway. She's seen it all and will still see more, present for the past and future.

Down the worn street and here comes the rain, pound-pound-pound into pools bathed in purple neon. Market Cafe and I sit down and taste the rain as an accent, huddled for shelter from the spray with the jazz keeping time to the drops falling from Heaven. Streaks of white flash across the sky in syncopation with the saxophone, thunder booms in time with the bass. The flavors of the city melt in my mouth, piping hot and fishy, slushy cool and fruity.

Just as soon the rain is gone, the gusty air now working in favor of the passerby and sending fresh waves of positivity, a warm smile after a baptism. The city pulse is certain, strong with the spirit of the dead and the healthy zest of the living, long-lasting through storm and circumstance, stamping its symbol, the fleur-de-lis.