We're in New Orleans for the opening of the poetry project I've been working on for the last two years with the Audubon Zoo, a part of The Language of Conservation Project, which is installing poems as part of the permanent exhibits in five American zoos. Tomorrow evening, we'll take the first trainload of viewers through the zoo, stopping along the way to talk about some of the poems I've chosen -- including work by Dickinson, Whitman, Neruda, Hopkins, Langston Hughes and many more. I haven't even seen the results yet myself. I can't wait for tomorrow, when I'll see what Terry and Mignon, the zoo's design team, have done.
This photo was taken last this afternoon from our hotel room balcony, five floors above Orleans Street big humid Gulf Coast clouds piing up, and the ninety-one degree heat suddenly softened by wind off the water, smelling of moisture and -- oh what have we done-- petroleum.
Later, in the night, just after Paul had fallen asleep, after we'd drawn the curtains over the balcony doors to muffle the revelry coming up from Bourbon Street, one melancholy and soulful voice, a young man, I thought, singing acapella: I was raised by the river, in a little shack... Like the very ghost of Sam Cooke, right on the corner of Royal and Orleans.