Marshy spillover is first to flood: where water
first met sand and pilings lost all anchor.
Where nothing rose above the surge, that wall
of black, black water. Where houses buckled, crumbled.
Where the storm’s uneven scrawl erased.
While miles away I watched a map of TV weather,
the eyewall spinning closer. A coil of white, an X-ray.
I imagined my parents’ house swept to its stone slab.
While I remembered sixth grade science, how we traced the city
like a body, arterials draining in the wrong direction.
We shaded blue the channel called MR GO that pours
from the River to the Gulf, trench the storm water swallowed.
The levees overfilled, broke open. And I came home to see
the city grieving. The city drained then hacked apart.
From Breach (forthcoming, LSU Press, 2010)