By Christopher M. Hannan
The waters broke from the void prior to first light,
a divinity ripping during the trembling flesh
of marshes and the levees’ previous clay thighs,
overlaying 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. autos grasp like carrion
birds at the maximum branches and torn roofs. Leached
of dust and flood waters, the homes we cross 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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Extra resources for Alluvial cities
Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, 1958 They dug the MRGO in 1958, right through the heart of Alluvial City, Hopedale and Shell Beach. Down Florissant Highway me and my son bounce through cypress groves and water oaks, past St. Bernard Cemetery, old as dirt, to Bayou La Loutre. They’ve already cut the road past Blackie Campo’s dock. Years ago I fished with a cane pole and a spark-plug off the asphalt that now is scree along this new canal’s banks. They’ll dig all the way from Breton Sound to the pontoon bridge at Paris Road.
My son, how did you come beneath this darkness being still alive? It is hard for the living to see these places, for between us and them there are great and terrible waters . . —Homer, Odyssey, Book XI, 155-58 I. DEUCALIONIDS The waters broke from the void before first light, a divinity ripping through the trembling flesh of marshes and the levees’ old clay thighs, covering every mile of St. Bernard Parish. Houses with their cement slabs have floated light as the rinds of watermelons you ate as a boy and chucked into Lake Catherine, swelled to overflowing by the god that surged into the Rigolets estuary and left an afterbirth of sweet crude leaked from foundered tanks.
Now men have made a steam drill to dig tunnels to keep from bein’ buried by the rocks; but like Prometheus felt pain when he was chewed up on his chain I still hammer, breathin’ stone, to face the gods. They lined me up against that ol’ steam hammer, said Let’s see if you can lick what won’t get tired. With my hammer at my side I vowed I’d win or I would die and I struck that mountain, bathing in its fire. So here I fall among the sparks and rubble three full feet ahead of that machine. A man ain’t nothin’ but a man and now my eyes are getting dim; this hammer’s gonna be the death of me.