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She Will Love Venice

My character in Jazzy, the new novel I’m working on, will love Venice, Louisiana. Venice will be a place Jazzy drove to with her daddy, one of her many “memory containers” destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. She will be devastated to learn the Katrina surge so inundated Venice to make the land indistinguishable from the Gulf of Mexico. The memories from my trip this week that I will give to her to create this love are:

* We stop the car so I can take a photo of the minuscule elevation between water and the road. I open the door and step from the car. All I hear is the wind rustling the tall water grasses. Gradually, the sound of machinery underneath makes itself known. My ear adjusts and listens instead for the wind in the rushes. My character’s dad will tell her, “Listen.” They’ll stand stock still so they can hear the wind rustling the saw grass, watch the egrets dipping into the marsh, wait for a dragon-fly to land on the tip of a lily, its wings beating.

* Hunting a place to eat, we travel the dirt road past huge oil buildings surrounded by chain link fencing hung with red-lettered “Keep Out” signs. Taking a right, we drive through several parking lots and come upon a grill. As I walk the short distance to the wooden house sitting high on stilts, I catch a glimpse of the water. Relief washes over me. Oh, Ellen, you can get a beer and a po-boy and sit on the deck and watch the sun sparkle on the blue water. The grill is closed, but I will give my character the longing I felt when I rounded the corner to the grill.

* When I look at the water edging into the road and soak in the lack of a clear line between land and river and Gulf, I see physically what I believe theologically. The line between here and there is wavering, indistinct, easily penetrated. Some say I have an overactive imagination; I say the division we proclaim is itself a figment of our imagination. To this end, I will have my character ride in her Daddy’s car from asphalt to gravel to dirt to the standing water that signals the road is about to give out altogether, then park and walk until all they can see is water where they’ll stand in awe, amazed the water lapping at their ankles is the same water spreading out and becoming the Gulf of Mexico.

My character will love Venice, Louisiana.


here’s to creative synthesis . . .

jazzy, novel, theology, venice

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