By Christopher M. Hannan
The waters broke from the void prior to first light,
a divinity ripping in the course of the trembling flesh
of marshes and the levees’ previous clay thighs,
masking each mile of St. Bernard Parish.
homes with their cement slabs have floated
gentle because the rinds of watermelons you ate as a boy
and chucked into Lake Catherine, swelled to overflowing
via the god that surged into the Rigolets estuary
and left an afterbirth of candy crude leaked
from foundered tanks. automobiles cling like carrion
birds at the optimum branches and torn roofs. Leached
of dust and flood waters, the homes we go cry out
damaged window panes, duct-taped refrigerators, and a stillness
that leaves us at the lifeless grass of this
woman’s domestic, like such a lot of thrown bones.
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Additional resources for Alluvial cities
It smells vaguely familiar, the salt of skin in naked shoals and these gasping small deaths. Some lie partly covered in the exposed mud waiting for small Antigones to bury them in the silt of their birth, the sediment of their decay. This painful beauty, uncovered earth in tides, digs into you like clams as children dig their holes. After two calm days the lake is back to normal, and only pilings jut like thighs from ruffled sheets to hint that there is ground below the modest, winking waves that gouge our eyes like Oedipus, leave us blind to things that move below the surface.
Go home to your wife and family; don’t get caught in witches spells. Cause you can’t trust girls who trick you, make you love them with a lie, anymore than dragon-charmers who dismember family. And you can’t split although you want it cause she’ll never let you leave as long as she controls that viper sleepin’ back under the tree. Try and go and she will wake it, kill your wife and both your sons, then flee in a chariot of fire dragged behind that woke dragon. I love Irene, God knows I do, but I remember witches lie.
I don’t get out that way much anymore. My knees and back can’t bounce like they used to, hollow as old oaks on a cheniere flooded by the wizening salty tides of arthritis, emphysema, diabetes. I’ll take my grandkids fishing now and again, but never too far past Hopedale Lagoon. I don’t like to see the land that’s gone like my old thighs, atrophied along the Channel. They’ll try to dam it off at the La Loutre Ridge, dump riprap from the Long Rock jetties, an embolism to hold back floods. But me, I know it can’t be closed; salt will still leak through the arteries of bayous that once bloomed with irises.
Alluvial cities by Christopher M. Hannan