Alex Streiff

The Good Friday Flood, New Orleans, 1927

The sky tongues its way into houses,

into hot water cornbread rising
out of the pan. Someone sings trouble

the water, adds flour to roux, parboils
rice. Rosary-fisted, someone kneels

to the floor, says, swallow me back,

Oh Lord. Death, a box packed
with photographs, quilts, trumpets,

song. Here, the river erases each street’s face,
buries houses where they stand:

street-scattered, drowned. Each window
bursts, cowrie shells thrown into the dark

floodwater. Tonight, it wants bodies,

will catch a man who looks
for a dropped cigarette, brand him

with briars, mud, the bones of dead birds,
before raising him against a splintered fence,

tree limbs, a car upended in the yard.

Alex Streiff is the fiction editor of The Journal.
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