At 6 a.m. on a Wednesday, New Orleans is stretching
and waking up slowly, a solitary barge drifting lazily by
on the lazy river as the bloody-egg-yolk sun peeks
out red-eyed and bleary from its cloud-blankets;
the streetcars on Canal stand idling, blinking their eyes,
one finally crawling forward. A few cars cross
on Magazine, a bus sits waiting at the curb,
a garbage truck lumbers down an alley.
In half an hour, one runner, one cyclist,
the first pedestrians venturing out,
haphazardly clothed as if they dressed in the dark.
Now, the sun brightens, and the ripples
on the surface of the water glitter like diamonds,
or, well, rhinestones at least; shadows from
lampposts and palmetto trunks stripe
streets bathed in patches of yellow glow.
A timeless scene, but a cable hanging loosely
outside my 36th-floor room swings in the wind
like the pendulum of a towering clock,
a reminder that the hours keep ticking forward.
T. Allen Culpepper