Scoundrel Time

On the Mississippi River Levee Styrofoam Cup in My Hand


that will disintegrate in 1,000 years    I drink my coffee     stand in gravel

in my church skirt     black velvet I wore to my mother’s funeral

eleven days ago           Take a photo

of my own shadow on the railroad tracks to Snapchat

to my  daughters        while this river outside

my parents’ house is risen higher than in years

spillways opened     live oaks sunk in mud     grass

littered with plastic bags and beer cans      Levee trash: a photo essay,

my former self might think        that self so well versed in irony

that careful daughter     who would  take notes

on weeds and garbage and shut her notebook    now on the levee

a white truck speeds by too fast

maybe a man who picks up shifts on rigs for extra money

and in a former life I’d write a poem

about how that man might be dangerous

to my daughters            now I write


I am here to walk off my restless

sadness      to walk off my mother’s voice

years ago after the storm  when the city flooded          telling me she will never

leave New Orleans      no matter

how high water rises or how many times levees breach     telling me

she will die in her house

no evacuations     no hospitals

Now I know grief has its own topography    mine is

this city and this coast




Image By: USACE via flickr