Missing Home – Scenes from the Lower Ninth

Cinder blocks
stand like prehistoric Stonehenge
holding up
the stale bayou air
as it wafts across the Lower Ninth.

Did the ancients too
undergo tragedy born of man’s desire
to conquer canals
and barren fields?

The neighborhood’s landscape
is now blemished
by broken sidewalks,
grafitti masking cash machine as art,
and a lone mailbox with contents marked
“return to sender”.

No one is left
to tell the tale
of the wooden table and chair
strewn along Flood Avenue,
knobby leg poking through wildflowers
chair seat matting down nearby weeds

teetering atop the chair
as flood waters rose,
then stepping onto a wobbly table
to reach the ceiling,
crawl out a hole in the roof
and wait

for rescue.

And return
to the skeleton
of a home lifted off its haunches and carried away.

The burial of what died in the Lower Ninth
comes slowly
as seasons overcome the work of man
who long ago created channels
that could not hold back the surge.

A set of steps stays behind
to welcome its ghosts home.


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