Wednesday, March 29, 2006


New Orleans, December, 2005


for Meg


I can't see you there—though I look, every time—

in the cold deluge of TV newsbursts

that soaked me every hour those first days.

The scene repeats at eleven, the bus again sideways in a pool of debris

again my grief-soaked Sonia

pointing outside the camera's view, again

your red shoes neatly side by side

disaster netted by news casters, displayed in gruesome glory.


It's the weight I cannot hold, its sudden mass too heavy:

the immensity of our dreams speeding

through an eight-lane disaster-zone highway, the heaviness

of doubt that forces our final slide into the guardrails,

the burden of grief that grows in that place like mildew.

Parched in the shattered scene stirring sixteen hundred miles

away, my fingers touch the dry TV screen.

Half a country from that Louisiana tarmac, I am stranded here

in strange atmosphere, gasping and flopping in a world

tipped like reason undone.  And you,



A single wave rising

cannot be understood

without the context of the ocean. 

One loss cannot be sounded alone

against the great tumble of death

in that city of romance and ruin. 

Here is my shout in chorus

with the great cry that rose with the flood waters,

my anger mingling with the rage

left behind like toxic mud. 

Here are strong hands I love returning

to scrape and mend and tarp and plant

in a land of strangers knotted tight by grief.

Here is the lesson of tragedy:

we can live in the wet, if we grow gills

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