A tribute to the residents of New Orleans who endured Hurricane Katrina
by Ms. Dupre
I have visions…
I am hopeful…
Who destroyed my city, along with every memory of my past
and every proposition for my future?
I embodied New Orleans. Yes, I am the city.
When others see me they see New Orleans before they see my face.
This is my identity, an identity that I cherished.
I wore the “Big Easy” not as a mask but as a badge.
Proudly, the essence of New Orleans shone, sparkling in the sunlight,
glinting and blinding those in its way.
I am displaced but still cloaked in New Orleans,
my badge, untarnished in my eyes.
But others do not perceive its brilliance.
Who am I?
I am a Katrina Survivor.
Days have passed since the event I hate to speak of by name.
But I, like everyone else, feel the strangeness of being torn away
from the most original, culturally rich and unique city,
set adrift in America.
I spend sleepless nights, dreaming horror stories,
stories where New Orleans will never exist again.
I awake in a cold sweat when I see medians where once streetcars traveled.
My head shakes restlessly as a dream of misplaced people
trying to recreate the foundation the cuisine, the patios,
the portion, the intimacy of the place they called home.
In my dreams, many things happen. I drive up to my mother’s door
on the same street with the same houses that I’ve known forever.
I knock on the door that opens to my childhood home.
My knock is answered by a crypt master
who shows me the scrapbook of my past. But I can’t touch it,
although I try to, but it slips from my hand, slick with mold.
A hollow sound echoes as I call the names
of people I knew that were always within earshot.
Where are they?
And where are the thousands of people I called my friends and associates?
The answer is so harsh — who knows?
Many say be happy that you and your family are safe,
that your lives were spared.
But I think of the lives of those who shaped and formed me,
names that I can’t even remember, and I simply wonder,
Oh how I wonder…
Yes sir, I’ll have an order of “wonder” with a side of “grief” please.
I am in a new place, and daily night comes.
Forgive my oxymoron,
but struggling to sleep I finally find repast.
To everyone’s eye I am resting comfortably in spite of.
But in reality my sleep speaks the truth.
I toss and turn, not out of restlessness,
but to the rhythm of the Second Line
and the “bump and grind” of Bourbon Street as my spirit dances.
Apparently totally restful, I am awakened by the whispers,
the whispers of the ghosts of those of New Orleans’ past
as they scream in my ear a command to return.
I am but one person who survived the catastrophe,
and yet the city will not let me live outside its boundaries.
Surely it calls others but it calls me nightly
and I await the day that I return.
Who am I?
I am a Katrina survivor.
Copyright © 2005 by Jedda Jones, All rights reserved.