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Louise Bostic reflects on a statue out of place

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2019 | Views: 1631

Louise Bostic reflects on a statue out of place

A View From My Front Porch
By: Louise Bostic

Living near New Orleans is like living no other place in the world. The most skeptical, the most sophisticated, the most religious is soon drawn to the mysteries of legends and tales of the paranormal. Amid the maze of historic grandeur which permeates our region, our whole culture seems drawn to the past. Vast cemeteries, which are architectural cities in themselves with maps and street names to navigate the hundreds of ornate monuments and tombs, attract visitors from around the world.

Being a part of this culture, although as an “outsider” not a part of it at all, saturated with enduring beliefs in curses, spells, and all manner of ancient traditions, affects one’s lifelong stance regarding the presence of ghosts and mystic afterlife.

In this culture in tune with the paranormal, a dark shadow standing motionless at the curb of the busy five lane street for days on end, seems strangely natural and an integral part of the legends and mysteries which saturate our locale. She will be in the same place for hours, perhaps the entire day. Sometimes she will cross to the McDonald’s on the other side where employees or customers give her food they choose from the current menu although she never asks. The police know her name and know where she lives in the next town but she never speaks nor responds to any greeting, except for an occasional empty movement of those small black eyes in the direction of your voice.

Hour after hour till the days come and go she stands at her spot streetside hardly moving at all. Cold temperatures or blistering heat she is there. We learned long ago that she is not homeless. When my neighbor and I first noticed her slowly transiting our street seemingly checking each house front we were concerned about this “dark skinned man” quietly assessing our neighborhood. The police knew immediately who we were watching. They called her by name and surprised all of us when they explained the person was a woman, assured us she was not homeless and reluctantly agreed to take her home again. The policeman explained it was a waste of time to take her home for she always was back in a few hours. Standing on the street was not a crime for which she could be formally detained.
Behind those dark unblinking eyes is something mysterious, something haunting, daunting. Was it some trauma which caused her to be who she is? Here in the bayou and swamps of our historic state, we might suspect the paranormal. Children might guess an alien had entered her body. In any case the silent figure still, somber, catatonic at the very edge of the busy street is at once concerting and invisible to the hundreds who pass by.

Our town is kind and proactive in addressing the homeless and is careful in dealing kindly but firmly with panhandlers and transients. They are few in number as we are not a metropolis city and Baton Rouge and New Orleans are near enough to more strongly attract those inclined to beg rather than work to change their circumstances. Our police, although sensitive to adverse circumstances, quickly address these individuals, assess their needs, deliver them to the appropriate services the community offers for food or shelter, and firmly encourage them to take advantage of the facilities we offer or move on.

Our own personal silent statue and neighborhood street dweller never solicits. It is not evident what is going on in her private world. Sometimes I think she is an autistic version of those of us who relax on our porches and just watch the traffic go by. Whatever motivates her actions or lack of action, she seems self-reliant, bothers no one, does not obstruct our daily activities and provides a mystery for those occasions when we actually notice she is there.
What a wonderful place to live. Our lady of mystery is accepted as a part of our environment and after years of seeing her every day, represents one more important and interesting part of the place we feel is home.

“I was a stranger and you took me in, hungry and you fed me, naked and you clothed me……”
 
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