Amanda Auchter is the founding editor of Pebble Lake Review and the author of The Glass Crib, winner of the 2010 Zone 3 Press First Book Award judged by Rigoberto Gonzlez and of the chapbook, Light Under Skin (Finishing Line Press, 2006). A former Theodore Morrison Poetry Scholar for the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, she has received awards and honors from Bellevue Literary Review, BOMB Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, and others. Her writing appears in American Poetry Review, Court Green, Indiana Review, The Iowa Review, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Bennington College and teaches creative writing at Lone Star College-CyFair.
Down in the 9
In the shadow of his house, Fats Domino
climbs from broken shards
of an attic window. His body is flashbulb-
stunned, humid. The floorboards
give and splinter behind him, open
to water. Wild-
hair, sweat. For days, the city is song-
sodden, newspaper-inked. For days,
he watches the dark
flood rise from porch to windows to gutters,
does not know that all over the country
houses burn with the blue-
flicker of television, the missing
poster of his face, or how in Ohio,
a radio croons Ain't That a Shame.
Up and down the block, his hears
whistles through fingers, then a boat
under the eaves. Tonight, he breathes
in the stink of himself, this world
of sewage and snakes, the sea-
sick waves, a hand
under the pit of his arm. Tonight,
he steps out into the flashlit dark,
returns himself to the small explosions
Introduction to New Orleans
after De Rmonville's letter to Comte de Pontchartrain, 1697
The question is water, how to shadow
this slow tongue that collects
in hill and dale, wild cattle. A city
made of birds, cotton, rain-
lit houses. How to harvest
white mulberry, copper, the buffalo
air. Imagine a country risen
from ship-timber, Indian corn. The windows
and their hemp sashes. Here,
it is easy remain still and sweat
at midnight, your body a seething
it is dark: a woman,
loose leaves, forest. The water
arrives exhausted, climbs
the lowlands and marshweed. We will want
to close its wide mouth, bring boats
stacked with cables, ropes,
masts. If we could conjure
a city from fruit blossom, magnolia,
thunderheads. Women and silk
worms, peltry. This world is in me:
let us build ourselves again
from silt, salt. Let the water
rise and wash
the streets. Let the wind
fill each breath, each dry throat.
On September 8, 1900 a category 4 hurricane hit Galveston, TX. Included among the estimated 6,000 dead were 90 children and 10 nuns from St. Mary's Orphanage.
Who first saw them found the shredded rope,
the stacked cordwood of bodies. The women
knitted to crumpled piers, fishing nets, children
suspended in sand.
Who remained walked the debris
field, cut clothesline from children
tied at the waist to nuns, their kelp-
filled mouths. The city iridescent
with roof tiles, oil-slicked sand. Each child
knotted against black wind, a stone
sinking the next.
Those who shoveled
out the smell with cigars, watched
the strange funeralthe pyre,
a beach of rope-
burned mouths, fish rot, fire
igniting a young girl's pale hair,
embedded into broken boards like buckshot.
New Orleans, 2006
On the street,
once in January
carried, your body.
In front of shotgun houses, the bayou.
In front of storm shutters, magnolia, oleander
leaves, a trumpet's brassed mourn
weaved through umbrellas, parked cars, handkerchiefs.
The yards still spoke of water.
The box, the horse, the carriage,
everything was speaking of water,
then, abandoned windows,
shoes without feet, even
you. Months before,
I filled entire city blocks. Beds,
the music of thunder. Once
in the after
noon, your face was mine.
you stood in the attic
you, follicle and fingernail,
even the trumpet
in your hand. All this
and now. The music
ran you back to the ground.
On the way out, the light-
hearted, the sound of street-
cars, beads, backtrack. You
should have seen this. Heard
them cut your body
loose. Their knees, feet,
tapped you away. The children
ran behind. A little boy and his
horn. The drum. The twirl. The debris.