These days you’re likely to arrive by air,
and before you’re off the plane,
the warm, humid air envelopes you
as if you’ve stepped into a sponge.
And then, underneath the palms,
downstairs from muddy river,
you work your way through panhandlers
and street performers whose talents range
from impoverished brilliance
and, yes, it’s dirty and rowdy,
the French you thought you knew
invalidated by streets
pronounced Cont-eye and BurGUNdy.
And yet, despite the drunken tourist hordes
And the speed with which your cash evaporates,
A kind of reciprocity occurs:
This city does absorb you as it seeps into your soul.
T. Allen Culpepper