By Ash Wednesday morning at 4am, everything was cleared away. The neutral ground was raked clean of beads. No ladders held their spaces. In the silence, voices and parade brass echoed. Memory hung in the trees along St. Charles like beads.
Now, the ground is scraped clear of ashes and heirlooms, and you can no longer smell the smoke. Two columns and a few architectural details wait in storage for the reconstruction. For now, a black wreath hangs on a gate post, waiting for us to toast and gather again.