Nothing is left above ground save crooked fire hydrants and concrete stoops.
Mementoes proving people lived here are buried.
So we dig.
Memories are like fossils. Objects hold them here.
A spoon grasped by an infant, an old man.
Who knew these things?
Who bought them?
Who got them?
Who lost them?
Who wants them back?
I think of those who can no longer use them, these things I dig up.
Amazing, the things: an elephant candle holder, dice, keys, trophies.
Sets of china, packed in a trunk with care. (They must not have thought they would have to leave them.)
So many statues of Mary and Jesus.
They all survived, every one.
We dig them up intact, though most are glass or porcelain.
I’m not sure I should be surprised.
This is the city of saints after all.
People ask what I learned.
It’s hard to explain how the city changed me.
I tell them I learned a new kind of archaeology,
And encourage them to dig.
J. P. Andreason
J. P. Andreason is a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire. He worked with Common Ground Relief in New Orleans in 2008.