Jul 3, 2012

No Ararat

Written by Rickey Laurentiis

Read by Alison Pelegrin

After Carolyn Forché

New Orleans, Louisiana
August, 2005

What you have seen is true. I was there. The city wrestled. The radio said this could be the big one, but who knew how to believe it? We gathered. I held on to my mother’s hand. I held on to my mother holding her mother’s hand. I didn’t dream this. Terrible noise. Terrible hollering. I slept through the hollering. Terrible wind-against-earth. I woke up. You might as well go back, my grandmother said. You done slept through all of it. I woke up. She was laughing. Oh, you should’ve seen it! It was morning. No sooner did he put head to pillow, Uncle Vernon shot up, hollering, ‘The roof! Damn storm done ate the roof!’ I didn’t dream this. There was a storm. Then there wasn’t. The day after came like a hammer through glass. The sky shook off his clothes and was brilliant. I tell you it was necessary: violence had to preface such beauty. The radio said stay inside, the levees are weak, and the crime–but what could contain my fire? I explored. I saw the down trees (they were beautiful), the down power lines (beautiful), and broken glass. I saw the life I once had rise from me like a tiny balloon. In the distance, the Dome. Bright. White as a burning eye. It had the permanency of a mountain—Ararat, where Noah landed. My God, I whispered. The radio said there is no god.

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