We watched a bit of the music on stage then seeing as how they were not into Zydeco we walked to the trees for shade. I thought the band that wasn’t as good as the ones I heard before, and then suddenly someone’s kid brother went on stage. While he played the accordion alright, his voice was monotonous and it made me feel clumsy and drunk, so I imagine it had the same effect on the Zydeco dancers in the center. We walked around Congo Square where people were selling carved instruments and carved turtle shells and horn skeletons of desert animals. I was thinking about dessert but I wasn’t sure if I really wanted one. There were two guys on horses. A friend asked if they were mules, but the guys said they were not. They looked bigger and more astute than the ones pulling the street carriages along Jackson Square.
Another friend asked if they brought them for other events.
“Yea we take them out to parades and second lines.”
“Is it ok to pet them?”
I looked at their giant black eyes and petted them just in the middle of their head. As my friend petted the horse’s head, she said, “ You can tell they are sad, just from looking at their eyes.”
“They are meant to run free and not be confined.”
They were strapped, waiting, each one carrying a human weighing above 150 pounds. How long had they been there? I thought they might let people ride them, but it was more likely just for a photo-opt, and then I tried to remember the last time I rode a horse. It might have been a few years ago in Brooklyn.
We sat by the staircase in front of the Mahalia Jackson Theater for Performing Arts, which was overlooking the pond. Ms. Jackson, a New Orleans native was often referred to as “The Queen of Gospel.” We decided to go back to Congo Square to get Italian Ices. It was back by the horses. I bought mango instead of passion fruit as I had initially planned, since the lady vendor said it was sour. We sat on a bench directly in front of a competing ice cream vendor. I felt bad since I had stopped there before, but decided not buy.
“Those are too creamy and heavy,” I said.
We heard thunder, and looked over at the boy who was an expert on these matters, to see what he would predict. It was drizzling now and the thunder sounded not too far off. I tried to peek past the Oak tree branches to see lightning. There were a few droplets falling. “It’s probably not going to amount to much more than that,” he said. I wanted to take a photo, but I felt silly as I often do when taking photos alongside anyone.