Contents

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p. ix

List of Illustrations

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p. xi

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Prologue

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p. 1

Years ago, when I began thinking I would write poems, I started recording in my journal the images that had stayed with me— even haunted —from my childhood. Always in that list were images related to storms...

ONE: 2007

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Theories of Time and Space

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pp. 5-6

You can get there from here, though there's no going home. Everywhere you go will be somewhere you've never been. Try this...

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Pilgrim

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pp. 7-28

Nearing my hometown I turn west onto Interstate 10, the southernmost coast-to-coast highway in the United States. I've driven this road thousands of times, and I know each curve and rise of it as it passes through...

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Providence

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pp. 29-30

What's left is footage: the hours before Camille, 1969 — ¬Ěhurricane parties, palm trees leaning in the wind, fronds blown back...

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Before Katrina

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pp. 31-52

Ships entering the harbor at Gulfport, the major crossroads of the Mississippi coast, arrive at the intersection of the beach road, U.S. 90, and U.S. 49—¬Ěthe legendary highway of blues songs—by way of a deep channel that cuts through the brackish waters of the Mississippi Sound...

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Liturgy

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pp. 53-68

The morning after the storm, hundreds of live oaks still stood among the rubble along the coast. They held in their branches a car, a boat, pages torn from books, furniture. Some people who managed to climb out of windows...

TWO: 2009

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Congregation

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pp. 71-82

...Here is North Gulfport — its liquor stores and car washes, trailers and shotgun shacks propped at the road's edge; its brick houses hunkered against the weather, anchored...

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High Rollers

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pp. 83-94

Somewhere in the post-katrina damage and disarray of my grandmother's house is a photograph of Joe and me—our arms around each other's shoulders. We are at a long-gone nightclub in Gulfport,...

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Cycle

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pp. 95-116

the first letter my brother writes me during his incarceration arrives on August 13, 2008—a week after we bury our grandmother. It comes bearing his name and his inmate number, r0470, along with a warning, stamped in red, that the letter is from an inmate and that the facility...

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Redux

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pp. 117-124

Some things have stayed with me through all of this and happen in my memory as if they are still occurring—like a story I am rewriting until I get the ending right. I know too that it's a form of rebuilding...

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Benediction

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pp. 125-126

I thought that when I saw my brother walking through the gates of the prison, he would look like a man...

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Acknowledgments

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p. 127

There are many people to whom I owe a great deal of thanks: Ted Genoways, editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, without whose ideas and encouragement this book would never have been written; Erika Stevens...