I am from a place of magic and moss. Where a small antique city meets a technicolor bayou town. We are the borderlands between fantasy, sin and conformity. My best friend Kevin and I ran the rivers of the Mississippi down to the Atchafalaya basin for all the days that count and as long as I can remember. I had my first kiss on the dock of his parent’s fishing camp. As the purple sun set into a dying pink, casting lingering shadows over 100 year old cypress stumps. He, five years older then I gently let me practice kissing on him. Never taking it further. Letting a child grow gently into a woman. Letting me scratch him first, with my kitten claws.
Music played accompaniment to this land of visual plenty. And food was the narrator. Foil wrapped links of hot boudin shared when bundled up in the bed of an old ford truck. Sat under the lit up branches of ancient oak trees in city park, New Orleans. Violins waltzing in a sensuous duo of holiday and lust . Hot buttered rum kisses that led to the unveiling of a red lace bra. Passion mixed with mourning that Xmas. As we buried our shared dead and fell into each other. It was an orgy of love and regret between two ghost and two still living. As he took me in the bed of that truck I think he took another. I loved him more because of it. His wild dangerous ways that he tamed only for me. The way he held me gently , yet kissed ruthlessly, as if he could fuck the ghost of her back to life inside of me.When he left me that Xmas I swore never again.
I miss my little house on Dante street. I missed the jingle of the wreath as the front door pushed wide. My Lie and die crew, my friends and their family, neighbors, strangers… We would fill the house to bursting as the fairy lights twinkled our merriment to the outside world. Bowls of Gumbo and Jambalaya, Boudin Balls and Natchioches meatpies, Crawfish pies… Every manner of creole and cajun fare. The booze flowed like a river cruise and sooner or later the instruments would come out.
From Rock and roll, to swamp pop to old creole love songs. It was where your memories mingled with your present. Dancing, kissing, and a intermingling of Yat, English and Cajun French became the patois of the evening. As the fiddle sang, generations moved into a two step taught from birth. As old as an South Louisiana superstition, you pin saints medals to the diapers of your babies and sing to them the songs of a fiddle dance under great oaks and cypress tress. You teach them of the mud that runs like blood through their veins. Generation begat generation on these softly sangstories. A ritual that last until they are to big to rock in your arms.
It was the last Christmas in New Orleans the year before Hurricane Katrina. It would be my first since I had split up with my child’s father and the final in my barge-board cottage on Dante st. Kevin came home from the city of sin to the den of lust and moved in to spend Christmas with me. That Christmas, maybe as if fate knew it would be the last in my lil house, outshone all the others. Gone was the wild eyed , long haired Cajun boy. In his place stood a slick Vegas , dressed to the nines man. As much as my heart went a patter, I missed my wild child. The one who I had sworn to never again.
He shucked his suit jacket and bag on my bed ,walked out and owned the fray. His brothers tackle hugging him, beers passing, The good whiskey taken from the cupboard. He had nicknamed me Pippa as a child and only he was allowed to call me so. His Pip. His little cherie. Again, the usual suspects and melee of riffraff gathered. I watched Kevin as he transformed. New Orleans unbuttoning that first few buttons and rolling up his sleeves. His hair becoming mussed as he was passed from friend to friend to greet. Instruments tuned, a circle cleared. The dancing began, with whoops and cheers.. a two step, a waltz, a shimmy lost get back boogie… I danced with whoever had me. Abandon and rosy cheeks, long red hair flying around me. His brother called out Bon Reve and with a breath stealing violence born from arrogance, Kevin claimed me for his dance card. His hand low on my back above my bottom he pushed me against him as we effortlessly danced in time with the music. His hips making a mockery of all who had danced with me earlier.
Gone was the slick businessman who gambled for his pay and pleasure. Here was the bad boy of the bayou. Gleaming wolfs smile and a dare in his eyes. He put his hand roughly into my hair and pulled me up for his mouth’s edification. His brothers and our friends erupted in good natured cheers and jeers. Kev and I had been dancing this dance a long while. Watching him come home in my arms, I knew that my Christmas would not be lonely.
The night passed in merry laughter and drunken revelry. As the last went and the door shut, as the candles were blown out and the curtains drawn, I knew a memory was in the making. Kev poured us a drink into one glass, a loving cup to be shared. We stood so close as distantly the music playing from the Cd player caught our awareness. Bon Reve played once again wishing us sweet dreams. He took the glass from my hands and knocked the remains back. Picking me up so that my legs went around him, he carried me as one might a tired child. Kissing me absentmindedly. Once sat on the edge of my bed, clothing flew in a hurricane of need. He slammed into me right there on the edge of my bed, no preamble and no hesitation needed.
A fiddle played all night, as he taught me the meaning of a cajun Christmas. We had been best friends, lovers, fiancees, and enemies.
That night we came full circle. Finding the lost and lonely of our shared story, completing the circle of our song. He spoke to me in french accented with the sweet molasses of a southern cajun drawl. His shaggy hair brushing my breast as he kissed my stomach. His tattoo against my face as I licked and nipped. His big arms holding me tight as he bent me to his pleasure. He bounced me to a rhythm of a sunday zydeco brunch. I sang out my sirens song and begged him to crash into me.
As with all things magic in the grey of night, the dawn must come. Sleepless and huddled in quilts, we drank Whiskey and Cafe au Lait on the front porch of my lil barge-board house. My head against his shoulder, we called a hello to neighbors passing, smelled the leaves burning in the air and the intermingling of chicory coffee woven with Mississippi river, from four blocks away.
For one last time we were the King and Queen of the River. Wild and bright eyed, thundering hoofbeats of unbroken horses in our hearts. The dark and the light. The broken and sullied. My Boscoyo (cypress stump) and his Cherie.
Allons defan Kevin. Allons to the music we will go.
J’ai Gros Couer but instead I will dance and remember our last Christmas in my lil barge-board house, in the city of our birth in the land of the King and Queen.