Hold the Door

I didn’t burn my bridges.
That’s where I put my gris-gris.

Atibon-Legba, ouvri-moi la barrière, agoé!
Papa Legba, ouvri-moi la barrière,
Pour que je passe.

Under the Causeway bridge,
cars roaring rumble-bump above:
this is mile one of twenty-four,
no exit, no turns ’til Covington.

Under the crossing of West Esplanade
two directions of traffic bisected
by rain water studded with turtle backs,
by meditating egret,
by cormorant cruciform and waddling musgovy.

Underneath the flattened span that links
two neighborhoods separated by
the Bonnabel Canal, where pigeons strut conversational
until the pumping station roars to life, and
then they scatter.

Vodou Legba, ouvre-moi la barrière,
Pour que je rentre.

Because you have to leave a door open.
You have to leave yourself a way back home.

Home is a lake whose other side
is invisible. Home is a territory bounded by
three busy streets which a child alone
mustn’t cross. Home is an attic
summer-hot and sawdust-smelling
where a child is not supposed to play

but makes into a refuge anyway.
Home is home. You won’t keep me away.

Here, Papa Legba, here is rum for you.
Here is tobacco. Here is a lock of my hair.
Here is a Mardi Gras doubloon, Krewe of Aquila.
Here is a magnet shaped like a crawfish.
Papa Legba, hold open that door for me.

One day I will come home.

I will thank you. I will give you praise
when I pass by you again on my way home.

I will thank you. I will give you praise
when I pass by you again on my way home.
Papa Legba, Atibon-Legba, Papa Legba. Abobo.

[Nicole J. LeBoeuf is a New Orleanian writer whose poetry has appeared in Sycorax and The Macabre Museum. Her short stories have been featured in recent episodes of the podcast Tales to Terrify. She and her husband currently live in Colorado, but she keeps trying to grow mirliton and okra anyway. She skates roller derby with the Boulder County Bombers under the name Fleur de Beast. She blogs at nicolejleboeuf.com and publishes very short fiction four times monthly for her subscribers at patreon.com/NicoleJLeBoeuf.]