Lincoln in New Orleans, 1831

When he arrived that year he had to walk
a mile or so on flatboats to reach the shore.
He had poled and floated here, watched hawks
circling overhead on lazy afternoons, still bore

the scar he’d gotten years before when he chased
and fought off seven fugitive slaves who tried to rob him
and his measly crew near Baton Rouge. He pasted

some home remedy on the gash and then stemmed
the blood with some cloth he had on board. It lasted
all his life, this scar over his right eye but it hemmed

in nothing. What really lasted was the chatter and talk
around Maspero’s Exchange where one mulatto girl more
was trotted and pinched, undressed while buyers gawked
and ciphered for the lowest price they could get for her.

Darrell Bourque
from his book In Ordinary Light
University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, 2010

used with permission of the poet

This poem was catalogued in Poems and written by Darrell Bourque. Bookmark the permalink.

About Darrell Bourque

Mr. Bourque is Professor Emeritus in English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he served as director of the Creative Writing and Interdisciplinary Humanities programs. He was appointed Louisiana Poet Laureate by then-Governor Kathleen Blanco in 2007 and reappointed by Governor Bobby Jindal in 2009.

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