POEM: A Brief for the Defense
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[Times photo: Douglas R. Clifford]
Hurricane Katrina took about 1,400 lives and displaced many more.

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Water, water everywhere

By KELLEY BENHAM, Times Staff Writer

What remains of the storm itself is a heavy brown line. It cuts across New Orleans where the water stopped. Months later the feeling from Katrina sticks like no other story this year: The hurricane breached our boundaries and exposed our weaknesses, helplessness coming over us like rising water. A year ago we were stronger, richer, safer than we are now.

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The brown water gathered up everything unclean from the streets and brought it into homes, into jewelry boxes and picture frames, piano keys and braided hair. Remember how it looked, rising on the television in our living rooms? What must it have felt like lapping at ankles, tugging off shoes?

It gathered things unspoken, tensions unreleased and fears unimagined and heaved them together atop overpasses, parched and stinking, and all we could do for days was look.
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