”The night I got there, Labanna was making a warm tincture out of various leaves and berries. She waited for me to extract the juice out of the cheese cloth and fed me a small spoonful of it. It was bright red, sweet and a little sour. We talked about the cemetery next door, sisterhood and healing. I was planning to go Nashville 7 days later, to mourn a lost friend. I did not know that I was about to experience that, in New Orleans.
Leah joined us the next day, she took me to her home. We ate crawfish out of a bucket. We took our clothes off and drew each other.
They say the bodies aren’t buried the same way in New Orleans, because the city is built on a swamp. They say the city is built on a sacred land that was never meant to be lived on. There is a bird that lived in that cemetery and sits on the ledge of a tomb stone every night. One morning I snuck in at 5 looking for the bird, instead an old man casually walked out of a mausoleum where he had spent the night. That day Labanna and I fell asleep in each others arms, the rain barely made the temperature drop, we were sweaty and salty.
The night I left Leah’s, I stayed awake till 3. I wrote her a letter on torn pages from my journal. She was so different from what I remembered, I felt guilty of exposing so much vulnerability to her. Guilty that she would think I was expecting her to heal me.
Amongst the southern smells and the subtle sounds of the june bug, dying to get back on its feet, I found sisterhood.”
Marie Ségoléne is a Canadian poet and visual artist who mostly work with performance, sculpture and photography. She graduated from a B.A. in Creative Writing from Concordia University in 2013, and is currently completing a second B.A. in Studio Arts with a specialization in sculpture. Her work has been shown in spaces such as the City Bird Gallery (NYC), VAV Gallery and OFF interarts.
This spring, she travelled for over a month and worked with a series of portraits with women that inspired her, mostly visual artists and musicians. In New Orleans she met up with Labanna Babalon, a multi disciplinary artist and performer, and documented her day to day life in her home. Later, in Nola, Marie met an old friend, Leah Meltzer, who she shared some inspiration and took photographs with. About the meetings Marie says:
“Both these women generously welcomed me in their homes, fed me and taught me a lot about intimacy, vulnerability, strength and sisterhood.”