Katrina’s Voices

POETRY

By JENNY ROOT

“Gettridge’s only storm is his loneliness, which he bought for himself along with the Sheetrock & floorboards after he dug in his heels and started rebuilding.”
The Times-Picayune, August 25, 2006

Now that I’m back
(No power or potable water
I’m fixing to live on.
White stucco shotgun
Lived in this house
Streets full of mud & trash
over 50 years and now
Waste, filth, death
I’m building it all over again.
“Debris” say white folks
Only house I got.
Houses flattened
Raised nine kids here
Like toys
spread over five states now.
Trees piled on cars
Dead folks found floating
Piled on trees, mud
all over the Ninth Ward.
Thick as 1927
Holes in the attics.
Block after block
Three people found
Drowned
in the rafters
An American city
down that street there.
Unrecognizable.
I grew up the hard way.
American nightmare)
I grew up without shoes.

“We couldn’t have foreseen…”

This doesn’t bother me.
“It was safe.
My neighbors, here or not,
You had children playing
they all know
in the street. Now it’s just so
who I am.
quiet. You don’t hear nothing
I won’t drink the water,
but the crickets.
but I’m staying right here.
Listen.”

Jenny Root has been published in Poetry International, Fireweed, Hipfish and other small magazines. Formerly of Detroit, she has lived in the Eugene, Oregon, area for nearly 20 years, working in publishing, bookselling, and now as an editor and graphic designer for a nonprofit in criminal justice.


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