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Absinthe and New Orleans by Ray Hackett (my Godfather!!)

In Vieux Carré, the morning begins with the smell of beignets and dark-roasted coffee. The streets are cleaned and washed
at first light as a clarinet ends the night and starts a new day,
the first measures of Rhapsody in Blue drifting through the door
of a small jazz club. My heart settled here when I was too young
to chose and to this place I return, whole or broken.
 
Vieux Carré, where my father, a jazz man and priest, would sit sipping
absinthe in a dark cafe, the wrought iron table uneven on a brick floor,
the war over, his young wife holding me in her arms some of his wounds
healed, sure that leaving on a small freighter to serve the Anglican Church
on an island named after the Cross would stop his raw flesh from weeping.
He was wrong - those cuts were deep and would never heal.
 
Perhaps it is ritual that gives the green fairy its strength, the ability
to heal or obliterate, touch the heart of a broken man. Ice water slowly
dripped on a sugar cube resting in a slotted spoon over a glass filled
with a few ounces of absinthe. As the herbal scent rises, drifts into the air,
there is an echo: "Balzac, Rimbaud, Baudelaire" as the absinthe finds
its way from Paris, to Vieux Carré milky and sweet in my father's glass.
 
I sit in that same cafe 70 years latter trying to cross those years,
watch cold water drizzle on a cube of sugar, look for the shadow
or shimmer of a young couple and their son, and listen to the bell
of Saint Louis Cathedral chime on the hour. The smell of grande
wormwood, green anise, and fennel rise up as the absinthe and water mix.
Maybe it is legend or maybe the drink - but as I sip I begin to see.