New Orleans, 1926, Morgan Elser
Survivor, New Orleans, 1926

At the cafe table, drenched
in afternoon gold, she sits. The shell
of bonnet gleams like brass. A long
and wild requiem unwinds itself
from the helix of the trombone
up on the balcony over the way, it slinks
across the dozing street to find
her ear under the shell. Fragile fingers
curl round the sweating glass. The music stirs
the flimsy linen of her dress, sole bandage
left her after the shell exploded
into fragments, tore the membrane, threw her
out, alone, bare-armed, bare-legged, toes
naked and restless as the long
fingers on the glass, uncurling
now, and the gold ring
clinks, a tiny chime, as she rises. The red silk
flower on the bonnet catches
the light, flares like a rocket
that beckons and warns, as she steps
out into the long silence, following
the requiem, into the evening, bound
for the fire on teh other side
of the night.

Liz Huck