On both principle and observation, I am resolutely godless.
Neither the ornate Catholic universalism of ceremony nor the enthusiastic snake-charming of my homeland convinces me of a grand design beyond the chaotic world we see.
That being said, however, life’s insistent entropy precludes me from dismissing voodoo out of hand.
On the contrary, the capricious whims of cause and effect, the foggy veil between action and analysis, only makes it more likely that the ironworks of civilized life are undergirded by some bloody superstition—like a frigate chugging past the waterfall’s current.
What gris-gris did Alabama wear those many years between losses in Death Valley?
What sympathetic potion lured the Great Leader away from the bayou and to our sideline?
What assurance do I have that when Les Miles speaks it is not the voice of Papa Legba himself?
What hex is he proffering, madness or salvation?
Such is one’s thinking when approaching the witching hour with Baton Rouge on the brain. Enough time there leads to checking cracks in the sidewalks for devil’s hooves or cupping each breeze for old Black Hawk’s whisper. That beating heart the voodoo queen drags through the dust belongs to no one but you.
A dangerous place for the heart, that town. A place where redheaded stargazers relieve you of your senses and preacher’s daughters keep wanton company. You are always too old or too young. You are always on the make and up for a con. You leave behind mistakes but no regrets. You will never be so beautiful as your horrible, horrible self.
Out of such a mess must come that cry heavenward, to make sense of sorrow, light of loathing. Unanswered, of course, but in that silence bears our hope still. In spite of ourselves.