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'Finding': A Poem for Katrina's Victims

ED GORDON, host:

Poet Freda Denis-Cooper reads her poem, "Finding." She wrote it for all the people whose lives were forever changed by Hurricane Katrina.

Ms. FREDA DENIS-COOPER (Poet): `As if rooftops of ancient Nubian pyramids, ruins adorned now, only with echoes, cries of salvation, finding ourselves in the belly of the Nile. The gods bring down wrath for lack of worthy sacrifice in this land of milk and honey, chastised for neglect and arrogance. Humble thyself. Finding ourselves on this wretched path like white looters finding loaves of bread on water-logged counter tops. Criminal, nonetheless. Move us from this place of loss and despair. Let centuries of rivers remind us to find our strength. Let turning tides shift us into discovering our truth. Students of the ancient mysteries, stewards of unmatched philosophies, creators of the sciences, people of the Nile, our birthplace, the cradle of civilization. Let us find our way to the highest point where lies the great reward: enlightenment. Restore us now as our seed spreads to the four corners once more. As we seek, so shall we find.'

I wrote the poem "Finding," in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Poor, black people have been disproportionately affected by this storm. And the images that have been broadcast around the world show not only a vulnerable America, but also an undeniable racial and class divide. This poem speaks of the great history of black people, which is all too often unspoken and misrepresented. It is meant to awaken a generation, reaffirm our greatness and boldly confess our connection to a divine spirit that controls our destiny.

GORDON: Poet Freda Denis-Cooper lives in Durham, North Carolina. Her collection of poems is titled, "Stones Unturned: The Soul Poetic." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Freda Denis-Cooper