According to Twitter, the Bub’s Burgers employees
are checking on homes for evacuees and at Courtyard
Brewery, someone’s singing karaoke off a generator
with Stormy Daniels. Keep your prayers, we want
tire plugs, gas cards, bleach, tampons. Cancer Alley’s
skyline was still splattered with Laura’s blue tarps,
but yes, evacuate on $7.50 an hour.
Tell me about the alligator seen in the Mississippi,
fighting to keep its head above the waves. Tell me
how the ICU ventilators of Lady of the Sea fared when
the roof blew off, scattering like Zapps potato chips
in the parking lot. Tell me about the parrain found
drunk, alive in a pirogue carrying a sack of expired
pop-tarts and water-logged photo albums.
I still have the stuffed frog donated to me after Katrina,
but people want to hear about their chances of drawing
on Marie Laveau’s grave in red sharpie, not about LaPlace,
Thibodeaux, New Iberia, Houma; about the 2,000 square
miles submerged, asphyxiated by the fossil fuel industry.
Somewhere in Sacramento, someone dons a pair of Walmart
Mardi Gras beads and scrounges Pinterest for a jambalaya
recipe posted from Salt Lake City. Tonight, the White House
shares, The people of Louisiana and — and Mississippi are resilient,
but the words are lost amongst static and reruns of Grey’s Anatomy
and we’re bound to fall asleep waiting for the next flood, the next
Entergy tower to fall in the river, for the next prayer for resilience
typed on Twitter in Sacramento, unbacked by water or dry socks.
I brave another termite swarm from the porch, running my fingers
down the teeth of a metal comb and calling for the Cajun chorus frogs
that never outgrew their tails. I chew mouthfuls of ginger and lemon
to keep my nausea at bay. The phantom of Bayou Coquille appears instead, her hair matted with cattail fluff and her forehead smeared with little termite bodies caught between sweat and kerosene. I do not chide her when she tracks mud across the kitchen, when she covers her arms in fleabane and dandelion. She leaves freshwater jellyfish stranded in my bathtub, performs the Opelousas two-step on unsteady sea legs, watches me from the doorway as I boil pots of sugarcane juice atop the stove. Everything here will kill you, she assures me as I pass her a spoonful. The scent of cucumber consumes the room, so I say,
Yes, I know.
Shelby Clark is currently a Poetry candidate within the University of South Florida’s MFA program. She is currently developing her thesis, a poetry collection focused on the US Southeast. Clark is similarly an aspiring sculptor with works currently on display at House of Shadows Gallery in Tampa, Florida.