New Orleans

(For Jane)

You gave me this city thirty years ago
bewitched me
with iron-laced galleries above arcane streets,
music and food drifting
from French Quarter doorways.
Every year since then,
we have walked beneath antique oaks
that witnessed duels fought over beauty
such as yours.
Here,
I have seen the sky on fire above the Mississippi
and often walked with your hand in mine
the white light of a full moon
pursuing us along black water waves as we stroll.
But tonight
we walk from the alley of pirates
to stand on these stones
before this cathedral
beneath two contrails above a three-quarter moon
slipping through ragged clouds
The past swallows all
as we watch painters, poets and jugglers
mingle with angels
and whores
and the ghosts of both.
It is in this moment
with the steady clop of horse hooves
before an unseen carriage
at last, I understand this portal,
and know
why one hand holds yours like gold
and the other becomes familiar with a pistol grip.

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About the Author

Ron Wallace is an Oklahoma native and currently an adjunct instructor of English at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, in Durant, Oklahoma. He is the author of ten books of poetry, five of which have been finalists in the Oklahoma Book Awards. He has just finished editing Bull Buffalo and Indian Paintbrush, a collection of Oklahoma Poetry, and his first novel, A Secret Lies in New Orleans was a finalist in the 2021 Oklahoma Book Awards for fiction.