NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 63

from Requiem to reclaim what’s taken from her, even if we build earthen dams to block her reach she will go around, under, or over, & already the spine of their logbook of calculations was broken & splayed as newcomers hailed from far-reaches as pirates, woodsmen, moneychangers, merchants, blacksmiths, & gamblers, (all hard men) ready to claim coffin-girls sent by the high churches of France… n Yusef Komunyakaa, Blue Door 61 BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE PHOTOGRAPH BY LAREN MCLUNG & already The Book of the Dead unfolded pages, & water rose to leaf through the before & after, the benedictions & prayers spoken in tongues rising in the tide of flotsam & debris of fallen churches across the Lower Ninth, slush working its way up clapboard & slave-brick walls of houses tilted in a dirge, up the last rung of the ladder, up to the voices caught in an attic, & then stopped in midair like a hundred washing machines churning, & already cries from a domed purgatory broke from the storm within where proxy armies clashed on weekends, & for a moment, as if we aren’t here, demons ride the shoulders of outlaw angels through streets of the antiworld where thieves of bread & milk are clubbed to the sidewalks, but here on earth, the levee’s uncorked boom drowns the solo of Bolden’s cornet driving a note up the river of rivers, saying, I’m the mama & papa of ragtime, & already an unearthly hush was returning to the people trapped behind barred windows & waterlines measuring the sag in the dragline as bottom fish floated up, lost in the Big Muddy unburying the wormy compost of days rotting in the darkness, & a wind-up toy inching along crawfish mud & bloody slag, & already they’re turning pages of the uncharted old lost seasons footnoted in the abridged maps warning of man-eating savages, to Jean Bapiste’s flotilla of six ships bringing six carpenters & thirty convicts to rip out miles & miles of saw vines & dig trenches, born to erect makeshift shelters of raw sappy wood & speculate on their stolen dreams, the engineer Pierre Blond de la Tour saying, No, not here, the river will never stop trying