Around Mardi Gras each year, I find myself excitedly awaiting the celebrations. Even from Florida, where Spain hailed rather than France, I find myself waiting all year for it to come. For the last two years I’ve gone to Jackson’s school, brought snacks, beads and stories about our beloved cultural carnival. More and more, though, I have come conflicted with the history of France in Louisiana, and the romanticized history of my favorite city. I wrote this today trying to sort some of those feelings out. Enjoy.

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From and to the sea

Spain was first to find this place
From across the open seas
But then to France in golden lace
A kingdom for King Louis

When the French landed on river banks
Raised by different tongues
They took the levees then pulled ranks
And warred with beating drums

Not one year from the day of anchor
They threw a marvelous feast
To the backdrop of the Native rancor
They danced on land they seized

A score from under France’s law
They named it Nouvelle Orleans
And the celebration of Mardi Gras!
Purple, Gold and Green!

She watched the city rise and fall
And twice it nearly burned
Through war and fever and endless sprawl
Mother nature had been spurned

The Quarter built on solemn earth
The river dammed and tamed
Mined for every cent it’s worth
And sowed with cloth and cane

The hands from which its empire rose
Were beaten, worn and chained
Their freedom took with a million throws
With blood the soil’s stained

Now we call it history
Now we call it culture
To celebrate the tyranny
With compensatory sculptures

Yet everyone here loves this city
They’ll surely say as much
They’ll tell you to reserve your pity
For history belongs untouched

Millions come each year by freighter
Waiting hours for the floats
Watching as the frogs and gators
Seek shelter in hidden moats

The streets amass with bread and flask
Actes pardonnés
A tradition colored with beads and mask
Une super soirée

With heavy heart and painful longing
I celebrate it, too
The primal need to feel belonging
Overwhelms the truth

Not much has changed in centuries since
From 1699
But now through winds and heavy rinse
Is a city scarred and shaped by time

Perhaps the ghosts from underneath
Are bringing forth their ire
To sink a city as it seethes
A curse once forged with fire

Will mother nature forgive us all
And let this city be
Or will the tides break down the walls
And return us to the sea