My city is drowning
I turn on the tv. I want to know what is happening. I don’t know how to feel . . . what to feel. I see. My city drowning. I see my people black and bruised and begging and screaming and dying. The faces are all familiar. Voices all heard before. There is violence and desperation.
“I hear they are looting for food, and water and passing it out to other people” someone says.
The pretty blonde news anchor scoffs at the remark “Makes them sound like modern day Robin hoods . . . right.”
A tiny laugh.
She shakes her head, her stomach full, her clothes clean, her environment air-conditioned, her bathroom works.
News continues. Looters. Anarchy. My people are shown plastered against the screen. Violence shooting black bodies baked by the sun. The camera zooms in the sound cuts out, like some damned discovery channel special. But we are people, humans we are beings. I can see them cry. My youngest sister is trapped in the once proud convention center. People are dying all around her. A mother gives birth. A three month old is starving. The mother mal nourished and sick cannot produce the mil to feed her child A diabetic goes into shock an old woman faints the smell of shit and rot stifles the hot humid air. A woman sits besides the body of her dead lover wrapped in a white sheet. Still, clinging to the past despite the one-hundred and five degree heat.
And she cries
-and i cry
And she screams
-and i scream
-i am helpless
I call. Circuits are down, signal busy. I cannot get through
so I wait
for the phone to ring
And finally Mother calls from Baton Rouge. She is safe and with family. Everything lost. Everything is gone. This woman who raised my brother and me on her own, this woman who shed tears of blood and sweet to own her own piece of land to make a life, a better world for her children, my hero, my Saint, lost everything. She doesn’t cry. No tears are left
So I cry instead.
She tells me of a woman whom I’ve known since birth. “She was screaming because the glass was breaking all around her. I told her to get into the bathroom. She was screaming just screaming.
She tells me of the man who called her early in the morning to tell her to get out. He didn’t leave himself.
“The water is rising in the house,” he says his island accent strong
“Get out,” she cries
“The water is rising in the house”
“Get out. Get to the roof. Get out”
“It’s to late for me to leave the water rises.”
That is the last she has heard.
She is 56 she has to begin again
Everything is lost
but she is lucky
she is blessed
she is alive
Finally Brother calls. A friend made it out but his grand mother stays behind.
I see the view from above. I know the street. I’ve walked it. I know how the streets run with water in the gentle rains and how it flows like a river in the heavy storms. I know the roofs of the houses barely visible swallowed by water.
Big Sister calls. The man whom we share as a father made it . . . he had to be dragged away from his business. It was the world to him. It was his life. I wonder if he will recover.
PaRaine calls. “I don’t know where my daughter is, her husband the grandchildren?”
“Did they stay behind?” I ask in tears.
The answer is simple
“I’ve heard nothing”
I make a list that grows longer and l o n g e r.
Where are they? Did they make it?
On the news I watch them spray painting Ds and Xs over housed. The dead are here – do not enter.
But are they alive? Did they make it?
Dead bloated bodies tied to stop signs. People walk past trying not to see, trying not to stop.
A best friend calls. Her mother. My second mother makes it out of the hospital after walking through raw sewage and shit and rot through a river of death and decay she makes it out
The phone stops ringing.
another day begins
The president denies the aid of other countries
I seethe, I cry, I scream
rape and death and birth
“Where are you?” they cry to God and Country “Help us! Help us!”
Goddess, God, Lord and Lady help them I cry help them!
Where is their Home Security now?! Are they left to die because they are poor and black . . . like me? Are they to be washed away and forgotten? The rich sit on leather couches watching HD tv screens, shaking their head, sipping their cocktails. “What a shame. ” Remember you once came to play in my city you walked my streets of magick and mystery and now it drowns and where are you
Where am I?
Curled inside a bottle trying to forget trying to hide trying to run.
At least for a little while.
I turn off the television
I go to get a drink of water to clear my head but as soon as it touches my lips I am full of guilt for those who have not this luxury.
I can’t sleep in my bed because there are those that have not this luxury
I turn out the light
“Where are you my Country,” They scream
Where are you Aunt Grace, Uncle Robert, Troy, Ms Miles, Ms Oubre, Aunt Diane, Alethea, Susie, Mrs. Guevara, Sondra, Angela, Dawn, Katie, McClain, Cathy, Mike, Ashley? The list goes on and on, rolling out adding more and more
My city drowns
My people die
Some say we can never go back
But I will
I will stand on the ashes.
I will touch the wreckage of what was once my home.
I will make my peace
and honor the dead
My city will live in me