In the City of the Dead

St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery No. 2, Soniat Street, New Orleans, La. Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans on Wikimedia Commons.

On the way to the airport, I left the pair of Keens you bought me so
I’d look less femme on a bench at St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery on
Soniat Street, which closes at four and forbids alcohol. I confess: I
tucked a tiny bottle of Ancient Age into the left shoe. Each morning
for a week, I had sat between two plots of coping graves of Sisters
of Charity who died within months of each other, waiting for the
clouds to roll in from the Gulf—to temper the heat, to banish the
shadow I’d come here to wrestle, you far away and glad for my
absence, glad for the distance between you and the messy life I
first embraced in this place where the dead stay above ground,
where sad sacks cry to strangers on the street, where the two-
thousand-mile-long river finally slows down, and where a bowl of
red beans can bring anyone a step closer to salvation.

Holly Iglesias

Holly Iglesias is the author of three poetry collections—Sleeping Things, Angles of Approach, and Souvenirs of a Shrunken World—and Boxing Inside the Box: Women’s Prose Poetry. She has been awarded fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She is a member of Miami (Fla.) Meeting.

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