Backed Up in the Soul (Collected from CNN)

Hours later, still in the difficulty of what it is to be, just like that, just the way Stevens said, inside it, standing there, maybe wading, maybe waving, standing where the deep waters of everything backed up, one said,

climbing over bodies, one said, stranded on a roof, one said, trapped in the building, and in the difficulty, nobody coming and still someone saying, who could see it coming, the difficulty of that.

The fiction of the facts assumes innocence, ignorance, lack of intention, misdirection; the necessary conditions of a certain time and place.

Have you seen their faces?

Faith, not fear, she said. She'd heard that once and was trying to stamp the phrase on her mind. At the time, she couldn't speak it aloud. He wouldn't tolerate it. He was angry. Where were they? Where was anyone? This is a goddamn emergency, he said.

Then someone else said it was the classic binary between the rich and the poor, between the haves and the have-nots, between the whites and the blacks in the difficulty of all that.

Then each house was a mumbling structure, all that water, buildings peeling apart, the yellow foam, the contaminated stench of mildew, mold.

The missing limbs, he said, the bodies lodged in piles of rubble, dangling from rafters, lying face down, arms outstretched on parlor floors.

And someone said, where were the buses? And simultaneously someone else said, FEMA said it wasn't safe to be there.

What I'm hearing, she said, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas.

He gave me the flashlight, she said, but I didn't want to turn it on. It was all black. I didn't want to shine a light on that.

We never reached out to anyone to tell our story, because there's no ending to our story, he said. Being honest with you, in my opinion, they forgot about us.

It's awful, she said, to go back home to find your own dead child. It's really sad.

And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, she said, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.

You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals, so many of these people almost all of them that we see, are so poor, someone else said, and they are so black.

Have you seen their faces?

Then this aestheticized distancing from Oh my god, from not believable, from dehydration, from over-heating, from no electricity, no power, no way to communicate

We are drowning here

Still in the difficulty

As if the faces in the images hold all the consequences

And the fiction of the facts assumes randomness and indeterminacy.

He said, I don't know what the water wanted.
(It wanted to show you no one would come.)

He said, I don't know what the water wanted.
(As if then and now were not the same moment.)

He said, I don't know what the water wanted.

Call out to them.
I don't see them.
Call out anyway.

Did you see their faces?

:: Claudia Rankine, in Jubilat #12

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