Aeneas' Descent (les Naufrages de Tana)

*I wrote this in March 2015 after torrential rains caused severe flooding in Tana. In the photo you can see the scattered houses in the rice fields that now look like floating derelict islands.  I took this photo from the road nearby the American Embassy.

antananarivo flooding rice fields, road, green field hurricane madagascar

Aeneas' Descent (Inondations)

Once green rice fields now vast wastelands

of muddied flooded lives


a forgotten ragged doll
faded photos from a wedding day--their Sunday best
a forgotten sack of sugar

underneath a mattress
a black comb
a derelict flip flop
a stack of 10,000 ariary notes saved for a daughter's birthday
a crumpled torn facture
a once vanished silver ring

All these things
All this trash-treasure
All these dreams
So many too many so many so long

Buried underneath the agnostic weight of miles of water

From the top of the hill in Ambohimanarina the ruined rice field stretches out as a darkened brown lake
The winds whipping crests across it

Slanted shanty rooftops bob out like a boneyard of half sunken ships.

Barely buoyant pirogues manned by waiting Charons ferry families back and forth from derelict stranded villages

The ariary must always appear under the tongue--something
                                                                               someone must always be buried.

But for the sweaty dirty mama reny
in the faded ratty plastic-sheeted tent

along the digue in Tanak

Charon steals away even the cool tidal promise of death--

instead cursing reny to wander the dykes
crying for a smile
sleeping to forget
longing for sun
hoping for harvest
looking for a hand
praying for a path



jkAeneas waits with the Cumean Sibyl for Charon's barge, which will take him across the river Acheron to the entrance of the Underworld, where he will visit his father, Anchises. The mouth of Hell is represented in the gothic manner as the head of a monster.


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