South Louisiana Home

July 2019

Salt hangs in the air. Mom, Aunt Nette, and I at to the old house. Sitting on the porch, she and Aunt Nette reminisce about the smell of seafood and the always too big but never too spicy meals. They laugh about having been poor yet making-do from the rich earth. On the bayou, no matter how little you own you still have joie de vivre.

I snap a few pictures. Forever dirt spot where once Paw-Paw's barn proudly stood. Clothesline. Little pond Maw-Maw had tended. Traces of the garden. Unlocked side door to the kitchen. Front door only strangers used. Remains of the tree that, as kids, my cousins and I dug a trench around to fill with water, craft little ships from household detritus, and play Cajun pirates.

A recent hurricane took that tree. It fell on the house, collapsed the roof above where Maw-Maw had watched us while she cooked dinner. The company that owns the house patched the roof, but the ceiling sinks above the stove.

Aunt Nette pointed to a cluster of trees out in a marsh.⁠ For Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw, this was home when they first married. Maw-Maw nailed crates to the walls to make kitchen cabinets. There was no electricity, indoor plumbing, or telephone service, just South Louisiana prarie during the depression.

Aunt Nette pushes opened the side door. She says I can go inside, the bees working through a hole outside haven’t yet made it through to inside the house. She says now you can see the old tongue-and-groove construction.

I snap a few pictures of Mom and Aunt Nette laughing on the porch like kids, out on the front porch like my cousins and I had. I snap a few pictures for se souvenir. It’s best to stay out here.

Ask myself why I feel compelled by symmetry in this place—the horizon’s flatness, the fields’ parallel rows, the utilitarian lines of low farmhouses. Way out here, in this place they will never know, the world is leveled by the faraway country's runoff. ⁠