By Christopher M. Hannan
The waters broke from the void earlier than first light,
a divinity ripping throughout the trembling flesh
of marshes and the levees’ outdated clay thighs,
overlaying each mile of St. Bernard Parish.
homes with their cement slabs have floated
mild because the rinds of watermelons you ate as a boy
and chucked into Lake Catherine, swelled to overflowing
by means of the god that surged into the Rigolets estuary
and left an afterbirth of candy crude leaked
from foundered tanks. automobiles dangle like carrion
birds at the optimum branches and torn roofs. Leached
of dust and flood waters, the homes we cross cry out
damaged window panes, duct-taped refrigerators, and a stillness
that leaves us at the useless grass of this
woman’s domestic, like such a lot of thrown bones.
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Additional info for Alluvial cities
We beach the boat and mount the ancient silt where black mangroves and wax myrtles stand taut as our young skin and butch-waxed hair. There’s more tail shaking these bushes than the houses on Conti. I light a smoke and pull on Pete’s bourbon. The shotgun swings between my knees and I can almost feel the choke explode at the thought: I’ll shoot every rabbit I see. Out here the brackish marsh turns briny like perfumed skin sweats when you rub it. The barrier islands swell at the Gulf’s touch as salt currents swirl and rush into the body of the sound.
2. Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, 1958 They dug the MRGO in 1958, right through the heart of Alluvial City, Hopedale and Shell Beach. Down Florissant Highway me and my son bounce through cypress groves and water oaks, past St. Bernard Cemetery, old as dirt, to Bayou La Loutre. They’ve already cut the road past Blackie Campo’s dock. Years ago I fished with a cane pole and a spark-plug off the asphalt that now is scree along this new canal’s banks. They’ll dig all the way from Breton Sound to the pontoon bridge at Paris Road.
This litany of seasonings pervades the house with a reverence, and an incense rises from the kitchen, redolent of cigarettes and coffee, the brine of sardines, her perfume, and the gravy that brings the family together like a birth or a death, and fills your chest with the sweet and forlorn scent of fennel. PESCE ROSSO AL FORNO -Baked Redfish 1. I Pescatori—The Fishers Long before the fasting days and ashes and the midnight horses that stride Carnival’s end, before the memories of dust and the sacrifice of flesh on Fridays, we will rise in the darkness that precedes dawn to catch redfish for the St.
Alluvial cities by Christopher M. Hannan