One Year

by Angeliska on August 30, 2006

The enormity of all that has happened in the last 365 days
is almost beyond my scope at this moment to fully absorb and relate.
When I sit down to try and discuss it with myself quietly,
I am consumed by tears of sadness and rage
that catch in my chest and clog my skull but won’t come
until I exhaust myself with a combination of fears and worries.
In the face of this gargantuan injustice I have few words.
I have not so much in the way of rationalizations-
only a sore heart, an aching head, and too many memories with no home.
I know I need to feel it all, to see it all- but mostly I want to understand-
how all this could happen, how the world can be such a bad place
sometimes (more often if you happen to be poor + “undesirable”
in one way or another, of course)
I want to understand how we can continue to
lie to ourselves
about the end of the world
when it’s right in front of our faces.
I want to understand how I got from there to here,
and everything along the way-
the lost and found, lovers and friends
all my favorite houses, streets, watering holes..
I don’t have any answers for myself, or anyone else.
I miss it there so much, and yet know there’s no going back for me-
for so many who have little or nothing to go back to.
That’s not to say that many of my brave beloveds haven’t stayed,
or come back and bust their asses and cough their lungs out
trying to breathe life back into the place- and every day
they succeed, sometimes just
by the sheer fact of their presence and passion.
How can it be a year
when the levees are in the same damn sorry state
(worse, really) that they were before all this?
How can it be a year
when people ask me if New Orleans is still flooded.
How can it be a year
when I haven’t seen a score of sweet faces since
before the storm, and don’t feel with any certainty
when I ever will again.
How can it be a year
when so many of the dead are nameless, without graves.
Their loved ones are lost without them,
lost without their homes, their communities.

All day today I wandered around the big city
in the rain, rain, rain
with friends and ate and drank and looked
at things and tried not to think or to talk about it.
I wanted to blend in seamlessly with the throngs,
the tides of humanity who are unconcerned
with what happened down south a year ago.
It didn’t work.
I can’t sleep- I have to think about this,
and hopefully you will too.

A year ago I came home from Spain,
crawled over the creaking balcony
on my friend’s shoulders into the
dark and empty parlour
slightly dank and stale smelling
crowded with too many objects,
memories I had held onto for
far too long,
dust and dirt
sticking to my travel tattered skin
sheets and pillows damp with
swamp swelter, glad to finally
be home- but still restless.
A note left on my pillow
that said “WELCOME HOME”
still tangled in strands of gingery hair.
I left the night after next at 3:00 am
never imagining in my worst nightmares
any of what would happen next.

They’re cleaning out the house now,
finally- throwing piles of my belongings
out onto the street.
Those pillows we rested our heads against,
clutched and dreamed on- those were the worst,
spotted and speckled with mold feeding of
of our night’s droolings, dirty locks.
Those and the coverlet I wrapped myself in,
that creaky little bed all trash, worse than trash now.
Dresses, shoes, letters
ruined paintings and photographs,
sodden peacock, blackened fiberglass
and moldy drywall, sheetrock chunks.
Treasures buried in foul smelling heaps
and passersby find nothing much
salvageable or worth digging
through toxic refuse to hunt for
pieces of what was my life.
The trees all down below,
gone- too much light where
once were branches.

Here are some people who can say it better than I can:
Jose Fernandes- please go look at his incredible photographs,
they make the thousand useless words adage ring truer than ever.

Tami Nelson () – always nails it on the head and slays my heart simultaneously.

And still the light pours down from a crack in the clouds
near where Myrtle () is standing.

Signs of Life: Surviving Katrina from – I need this book.

and from a conventional news source:
A one year anniversary takes it to the streets

3 comments

[...] One Year [...]

by Angeliska Gazette › Hurricane Katrina: Four Years Later on August 29, 2009 at 4:39 pm. #

[...] ✸ One Year [...]

by Angeliska Gazette › Storms – 5 Years on November 19, 2010 at 1:10 am. #

[...] ✸ One Year [...]

by Angeliska Gazette › 6 Years On – Fragments + Wet Feathers on September 1, 2011 at 12:18 pm. #

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