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Thursday, June 28, 2018


by Tricia Knoll

Getty Images via Daily Kos, June 26, 2018

Beige vinyl heaves in the wind
like a lung. Crackles. I know.
The whine of the air-conditioner
insists that you cluster on low-slung cots
to speak directly into each other’s ears
or not talk at all. Intermittent cold blasts
interrupts every dream. Forget privacy.
Forget home and bedtime stories.
Store what you have under your cot.
They pitch these tents under all-bright
overhead lights. You will not sleep well
in this compound of generators, toilet
and bath modules, chain link and guards.
You will hear others' nightmares.
Your feet will scuffle on vinyl ground.
Hold your children. Let them not be stolen.
You may despair. The tent compresses you,
an I cannot breathe of internment.

Tricia Knoll lived in one of the FEMA disaster tents going up to house immigration refugees. She was a responder to Hurricane Katrina. She understands the differences between her experiencce and those of todays' traumatized families. She knew exactly when she would go to her real home, certainty. She asked to be in this tent, free choice. She was not afraid, privileged.  She cannot forget what it felt like to live inside one of these disaster tents.