Her toes dig into the mud. She wears a long black dress with grey lace barely hanging on the edge. She crouches down and scoops up a handful of mud in her hands, sniffs it, then slowly eats it. Time comes into play, along with tears shed for the dead, blood spilled in the name of someone long gone, and memories - she can taste it all. She continues to eat the mud as she watches the Mississippi River flow slowly in front of her. When she finishes eating, she walks to the river and bends down to wash her hands and feet then walks into the river. Cool water mixed with debris from other cities and times greet her dry skin as she wades into the water. A baptism for the fallen, the lost, the sacred. She walks until her waist is covered by the water that suddenly slows down around her. The river knows her, senses her body with the extremely old soul, and greets her. She nods then returns to the land. As her feet make contact with the land again, she closes her eyes and listens to the heartbeat of the city. Defiant after all these years. A refusal to disappear under the guise of modern skyscrapers and unsteady dreams. She can feel the city breathing. Once upon a time, the city spoke to her, asking for her love. She refused. The city continued to ask, beg, plead, demand. She continued to refuse. You belong with me, the city whispered to her through jasmine scented breezes. Come to me and I will show you. Come to me. She closed her eyes and SAW. When she finally said yes, the city opened its arms to her and made her its Guardian. She lives in a small house, unknown to many except for those who drink the city’s blood. The Guardian wanders the streets, walking in step to the heartbeat. When night falls, she will walk to the river and drink from it as though it was a delicate tea. When the city sighs, the Guardian dances barefoot within the shadows. And so it was and still is.
(photo by Kimberly B. Richardson)