She was standing at the entrance of somebody’s driveway, as we drove past looking for the spot where the levees broke and the water came rushing past. Scout would know the precise name of it, the name of the street: we drove around today for two hours looking at places she’d been and I’d never imagined. Mary, full of grace, with her head cracked off and put back on, and all the broken places showing.
What you don’t want, what you aggressively don’t want, when you’re going through something, is some comfortably situated loudmouth telling you they know exactly what you’re going through. Misery hates company. Misery hates shallowness more. Misery hates, above all, being lectured at. We came to put our hands to use places where they could be used. I came, having been here as a child only once and only briefly (there was a doll shop, and a doll with a purple hat with ostrich feathers, and the raised graves concerned me, is all I remember). The light is different and the streets are narrow and everything smells sweet, like something baking, and this is what we saw, around the city, today.
People communicated through markings on houses, a code: who was here, when, what they found and what they left. A dog is trapped, in black spraypaint. No pets, in green. One body, marked in red. People painted their own street signs, because nobody else did it and it had to be done. In the Lower 9th Ward, there are electrical cables lying across the road ways. There is a house sitting on a car.
There were tourists on the plane, necks wrapped with beads, drunk and silly and out for a good time. The plane was full, the Quarter crowded. A five minute drive away and it’s a ghost town. Two men sitting on a blue porch on a street called Forstall (which makes me think fore·stall [fohr-stawl, fawr-] verb, to prevent, hinder, or thwart by action in advance; to act beforehand with or get ahead of; anticipate) wave at us as we drive past. They once lived on a block of houses. They’re all alone now, other houses in the 9th having been torn down. Weeds creep up past the level of the stoops that still stand there, ivy reclaiming the debris.
The school’s fence is crushed like a giant stepped on it. The house behind Mary, the windows were blown out, broken glass everywhere. The Lord is with thee. She’s standing watch, blessed among women, her and the kid with the visor and stop sign warning us that there’s road work ahead and to turn back.
More tomorrow, or later tonight.