The Day 12 (Easter Sunday) prompt for the PAD challenge was to title a poem with “So We Decided To ____” and then elaborate on it.
So We Decided to Walk Down St. Claude
Easter Sunday in New Orleans, we had our choice
of at least five parades: Chris Owens, Arnaud’s,
St. Charles, the gays, and the Goodchildren Carnival Club.
We weren’t in the right mood for Vieux Carre hijinks
so we headed toward the Goodchildren gathering
at the corner of St. Claude and Poland. Along the way,
a half-dozen strangers wished us “Happy Easter,” and
one man cheerfully yelled, “Where’s my candy?” We also
passed a brick building where someone had sprayed
anti-war slogans. Eight blocks east,
a dentist’s window proclaimed, “We Cater to Cowards.”
The police hadn’t arrived at the start of the route
by two-fifteen, so one of the firemen
angled his truck across a lane
as a wall between the restless bunnies
and would-be thru-traffic. A woman in
a hat bedecked with large purple flowers
and an alligator plushie peeking out of her bag
kept trying to reach the cops, while one of the bands
passed the time repeating “Down By the Riverside.”
Finally — one, two, three boys in blue.
The marchers mush into their lines. The sirens toot,
and ten minutes later they’re all past the turn.
If it weren’t for the trinkets cupped in my palms —
a green plastic egg, a xeroxed fleur de lis
inside a metal frame, two strands of beads —
there’d be nothing to show me what I’d just seen.
Ten years ago, I’d have hoarded such relics,
and twenty years ago I’d have gone to Mass
as a voyeuristic indulgence, the way I always order
a wine or whisky I haven’t yet tasted
when we splurge on a dinner out. The older I get,
the less I try to cling to the past, for
the more I realize how much it costs
to clutch at even insubstantial dross. But blessed
are they, I’m told, who see not, yet believe. I see
yet do not believe. I am blessed nonetheless.