Nov 18, 2008

The Last Holdout

Written by Alison Pelegrin

Read by Tony Tost

I half expected to find your name, Dad, the obit
telling, like so many others, of wild times
and remains released from St. Gabriel’s morgue
three months after the flood, zipped in black,
the yellow teeth alone making sense. Ever since
you dove from iron steps into the condo pool
during a pre-landfall lightening storm,
we’ve bet on you kicking it by hurricane.

I wish you’d come back and play the holdout
that you are — one last season of mojitos
and gold medallions. Just like before —
ignore our pleas, ignore the mayor’s call,
and sit tight with your stash of fruit cocktail
while your sisters twist their rosaries in Monroe.

I’ll take anything but the call that came
in the middle of the night — death’s understudy,
death’s friend-of-a-friend — and the chaos
of dressing in yesterday’s clothes, more of us
crammed in the Grand Marquis than clowns
in a circus wagon. Then the waiting,
our scarlet frowns horseshoes aiming south,
Jerry jump starting the vigil when we dozed
by jerking your brain dead bed and shouting,
It’s a miracle! He moved, but you were unchanged.
Your eyes roamed everywhere but to our faces.

At least you’ll never know how we made out
or that they’re giving tours of the Ninth Ward —
truck on roof, barge on car and car, shotgun house
shifted two blocks from where its pilings stand.
You’d never ride a bus headed that way,
like me holding sacred what the flood line
underscores, grim chorus of painted words.