Symbol of a Storm
This is a rough draft of a poem I wrote about the woman journalists claim is the "face of Katrina." As if tragedy has just one face. We all wear tragedy's mask at one time or another. In the case of Katrina, it was a full house costume party of tragedy, with everyone wearing the same mask. Anyway, I am putting this out here because I need some help with it. And my blogging poet friends are just the people to help! Thanks for reading!
Symbol of a Storm
They call me a symbol, a snapshot of despair
since it was my picture, me and my kids
putting a face to disaster. Ravaged, distressed,
brows furrowed, nostrils flared. We were just waiting
for a bus, looking for a dry ride out of a watery grave.
In the months leading up to it,
after the seventh baby,
after the oldest was hauled off to juvenile hall,
I had been wracking my brain, trying to come up with a way
to make my mark.
With no job, no husband, half my children
housed elsewhere, I was no super mom.
I considered most tattooed mother, blue-black lines following the rivers
and gulleys of my used body, but hey, I have been slick with labor
a total of 48 hours. Who needs more pain?
I had just made up my mind, cast my net wide
and decided to become the most traveled mama
when Mother Nature came rushing in.
Didn’t even knock, that grande dame, just rose
and rose like the sun gone wild, until she knocked
our door down, washed away our welcome mat.
In with Mother Nature’s bastard son, Flood,
came her wayward daughter, Katrina, and the dark
stench of lives lost, the shriek of families uprooted.
Don’t weep for me yet.
My children, little brown fish, they had a wild ride
up and down the rooftops. The stinking wet finger
of a levee wave flicked us atop our packed suitcases
until we three were soggy genies, floating above tragedy.
The people in that photo? They’re the old symbols of us.