Sixteen Years to the Day Another Hurricane Reverses

the Mississippi’s course   my father waits in our house

beside the river  and I dream my mother drowning
water closing over her head    in my dreams she is always

dying    in the too warm Gulf    then pricked alive again
fairy-tale spindle    my friends and I text each other

to describe dreams    in which our mothers
ask us why they’re dead    New Orleans is the place

around which I uselessly orbit    after Katrina typing
my mother’s name     Missing Person    Jacki Cooley

into search engines    sixteen years ago my daughters asked
what is a hurricane’s eye    what can it see

then my mother was alive   refusing to leave the city
now I text my father    how high is the water    are there tornadoes

phone and electric out   I wish for a slick of river
to spare our house     while a new dream about my mother

wrongly comforts     she thrashes to the Gulf’s sand floor
where she can’t burn or come apart 

Copyright © 2023 by Nicole Cooley. This poem was first printed in Blackbird, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Spring 2023). Used with the permission of the author.