Poem: Katrina Mold


Green black blurs blotted, crawled
up the loose leaf wet wall; silent growth,
so couldn’t report the ankle-deep news
through Baton Rouge motel wires. Instead,
it captured footage as wind damage
stretched the ceiling into the living room.
While left behind in aftermath,
rain boots disrupted quiet
found among standing water.
By afternoon, mold could better eavesdrop
on front porch voices. And mud that seeped
under the door, or mildew that found warm
top corners
—the knocking began.

In weeks, we’ll return. Find ENTER
AT YOUR OWN RISK taped to the front door.
Turn the knob to press play with a gentle push.

Some notes behind this:

I was sixteen years old when Hurricane Katrina hit my hometown, New Orleans. I didn’t fully  realize the devastation that this life-changing hurricane had caused until I went with my oldest sister to assess the damage to her home (which was unfortunately damaged and lost due to flooding and a possible tornado). There were two things that stood out to me the most when we went to her house: first, a sign on the door left by a landlord or rescue workers that read “Enter at your own risk”. Second, the green and black mold and mildew that covered her living room wall from floor to ceiling.

This is also a response to the  lyrics from Rasputina’s Dig Ophelia. There are lot of references to water, flooding, and (what I’m assuming) drowning in some of the lyrics. The lines, “Water spreads the small seed/ Water kills the tall weed,” and “Here’s the water, just ankle deep high” really stood out for me and reminds me of, well, every annual flood season in Louisiana. The inspiration from that helped to set the mood and writing style I was going for.

“Katrina Mold” was first published in 2016 in The New Guard, Volume 5


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