November 8, 2008
It was the pickles
that caught my attention.
After all, the city was full
of late-night revelers suddenly
realizing that it was morning,
stumbling home, their heads enormous
and heavy, their eyes burning
with the sun and the hurricanes,
clutching the last bottle of the evening,
a talisman against the return
of their adult responsibilities.
he carried not a Budweiser,
but a gallon jar of kosher dills,
his step slow and determined,
his eyes firmly on his feet.
A long moment later, he came past
again, ignoring the cleaning truck
spraying away the excesses
of the New Orleans All Saints day sybaritism,
and the last trickle of frat boys
down from the University for the long weekend.
This time, with a case
of paper towels, straining to carry
them, but not about to let his determination
be dimmed by his coworkers
breezing past with teetering
arms full of boxes.
All the while we sat
over our grits and eggs,
tried to catch someone’s eye
for one more cup of burnt coffee,
he shuffled between the store room
and the front door
with the daily bread
as the city woke up, rubbed
its eyes, returned to the sins
of their fathers, the path trudged
so any times.
His hands no longer as strong
as they once were, but he not afraid
to get them dirty.