Our house (among all the homes in the city)

by Emily Bludworth de Barrios

Our house (among all the homes in the city)
Is like a ship
And I say that because it is filled with white light
And is surrounded by a rumble of white noise that feels quiet
Like how wind must feel on the water
(With the police siren going with the interminable freeway sounds) (an eternal wind blowing)
Our house stands expansive and expensive
On our street where there’s also a sex motel, apartments, rental properties, mansions, demolished mansions that are now a blank space, tall skinny townhomes built to fill every blank space, a megachurch like a megalodon dominates half the block
This is the city we made together collectively by accident
Nobody agreed to it
Nobody meant it

Our house (among all the homes in the city)
Is rimmed with camellias which withstand the bitten frozen bitter nights
Thickened glossy sturdy leaves and blowsy round voluminous blossoms
Everybody loves a garden and a row of flowers
A fence of beauty
Our house like a poisonous mirror
Stand on the sidewalk and peer at our house
It will reflect back upon you your own inadequacies
It will make you feel safe
Like this is a safe neighborhood where somebody cares and methodically engages in a regimen of maintenance tilling the soil with fertilizer and bending at the waist to pluck weeds up by the root an interminable vigilance to pluck problems up by the root
Take care lest you become a problem

Our house (among all the homes in the city)
Did not flood
It rose above the floodwaters
Which were a brown clouded mirror a glossy mirror a liquid sky vibrant with live oak leaves bunched and crowded the water like an oil painting vibrant with detail
Our house which rises 8 feet above the street
A mammoth resting on orange clay dredged from Brays Bayou which used to wind like a lithe serpent and used to offer life to herons and snakes and a dairy farm was thriving where our house and all the other houses are now built up
Goodbye to that bayou and those cows and herons and the crawfish
Brays Bayou is a drainage ditch and concrete lined culvert
It holds the water when the sky’s too full with it and the land’s too full with it
Its banks are concrete pavement gray and man-sized drainage pipes open onto it
(What’s missing is the color green)
To walk along the bayou (which flooded the city, which saved the city from flooding)
Is to walk among the city that men made
Which is a gently-pitched angle of industrial gray
I think there is a universal law that one thing or many things must always be sacrificed for another to thrive

Published on May 30, 2018