Reenacting Louisiana

PROSE by Jesse McCarty BFAW '22

I’m Reenacting Louisiana  

I go out searchin' for water streams and the copper scraps thinkin this time maybe it's gonna lead to brand  new rivers, wind chime celebrations, clasped limbs:  
a gumbo.

I have visited Shreveport exactly eight times since leaving.  
Who am I? This is what I am asking.  

I loved how sure I was at nineteen. I lost people, I gained more. I aimed for schooling, now I have  earned it. My fifth visit to Shreveport, I was worried my father might die. Mom still lived with Cookie. I wrote about it, I published it. No one seemed to like it too much. I do, still. The seventh  time I brought Dan along, we sold my book inside Minicine. Dan is from Michigan, and he has  eyes as big as balloons. I lived a whole life inside Minicine, and now he sees. I wear green for  good luck, for symbolic seedlings. I ran into Sarah, who’s red hair is longer. I hug her, and I feel  thankful.  

This time I brought my camera. I haven’t done that since the first time. All the video has oozed  out of me. I was writing it all. Now I am out of words. I film Dad ordering ice cream, all the  fucked-up billboards, and all the streets streets streets. Dad takes me back to Carnation (St),  back to Bossier! I say, ‘Oh Jesus, turn around!’  

I film paw-paw’s goats. Mom woes about who gets what when family dies. I think about who I’ll  give this camera to. Colton? Dan? We never got the ice cream.  

Realized I was gay ninth grade soccer pratice. Parkway High School. The varsity captain was  really bubbly, I can’t figure my sentences. Some boy walks up to me, I can't say the right words  to him either. Wow, choices. I still can’t make them.  

Right now, I’m worried I have to discover myself all over again. At twenty-five you start to tangle  it all back up. I was very sure of myself: I must get out to be happy. I am out now, but all I wanna  do is think back, run out of myself. The South scares me, I was born with its ghost. I video all the blueness. All the greens. My brother makes me a daiquiri and we untangle sunsets, mistakes,  lovers.  

“Were you wanting to tell her something?” Colton asks me after I see a friend.  “No, I’ll figure it all out.”  

And I will.

I will write about Louisiana now, just for tonight.  

Near mud rivers
back roads: the broad strokes
where my grandpa still lives,  
friends’ dwell,  
goats run from me.
Momma has a new husband, and my father gets a new car.  
How many times do I return? I ask you the same.  
In the South, we are changing, we stand still.