HomeSouthern VoiceThe House on St. Ann Street

The House on St. Ann Street

by William Miller

Marie Laveau lived in
this shotgun house
until she died
of old age, the last
cards read for
rich and poor alike.

And it was here,
on this small porch that
victims of Yellow Fever
were brought on
crude pallets, touched
by her fearless hand.

No one remembers
this Marie, the house
where many died
in the cool shade,
the brown eyes
of the mambo
looking deeply
into theirs.

No, she is a cartoon
priestess of black arts,
her face on key chains
and bumper stickers,
in the windows
of tourist bars from
Rampart to Decatur.

And she lies buried
in a tomb many draw
X’s on, wish for
money and sex,
litter the ground with
their cheap offerings
of coins and beads.

But around her tomb
are the graves of many
who died of the plague
she never cured,
yet helped the dying
cross over, their spirits
pure white horses.

William Miller is an Alabama native who lives and writes poetry in the French Quarter. He’s the author of five collections of poetry, 12 books for children and a mystery novel, all set in the Deep South. His poems have been published by The Southern Review, The South Carolina Review, Prairie Schooner and Shenandoah. We published his poem Robert Johnson earlier this month.

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