10 February 2008

FLOOD-new orleans, 2006 (previously published)

The bottles had been underwater long enough to soak the labels off; they were dark and anonymous. We lined them up on the floor next to the mattress we had dragged in and then we lingered in the electricity-free silence for a few minutes. Dead computers surrounded us and their associated hopeful vocabulary—modem ! keyboard! url!—was tacked up on the wall and peeling. Rescued religious statues regarded us from their pile in the corner.
I kept flashing back to the refugees' scrawled notes still on the chalkboards.
R gave me a long look and twisted the cap off. Not a tight seal. He smelled it and brought it to his lips—"a little funny."
I thought of the squalid, horrible place this liquor came from.
He looked at me again with those eyes like an tomcat in the darkness, killed the flashlight, took a long draw, passed it to me. Opaque brown bottle. I raised it and drank; it was whiskey with a faint taste of the smell of rain near factories. I raised it and drank what brought fragile order to its knees, what roared through houses and filled lungs to the brim. tearwater mudwater bloodwater: the flood of the people's funeral. i swallowed until my stomach was hot and my eyes burned. and then when the bottle was empty and r was unconscious as usual, the ghosts came in and we raged in the ruins with me laying down my body and them breathing in their bones from my breath.

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