from Arseniad

If history is a record of survivors, Poetry shelters other voices.—Susan Howe

She isn’t here, nor her page of exertion.—Kathleen Fraser

/ 1836

An owned
person leaving
New Orleans
few paved roads or lights,
levees “lined with a forest of masts”:
No other city of the world had advanced
with such gigantic:
“Burgeoning on
the bayou”
Eric Fleury: Easy mobility
on waterways “pervasive swamps”
to escape enslavement
(and survive) Chaotic
Indian African Spanish
then French after which
American rule erased
– the Code Noir and Las Paritadas Siete
– which defined as “bondsmen” and bondswomen” –
– by legal definition slaves had souls (and therefore –
– productivity encouraged manumission –
– illegal “barbarous and inhuman treatment” –

Eugene Genovese (Roll, Jordon. . .):
“not to be con-
fused with actual kind-
lines”: no Fabled
Golden Age of Good
always only goods

Arsene (alias Cora)
traveled to New York
with the white Creole
couple who owned
her [own, adj. intensifier,
as in: to thine own self be,
and verb, to possess
used with an object
as in: to own something
or (this case) someone.
and verb, to acknowledge,
as in: to own a fault]
All three
boarded a schooner for
a sojourn in France.

Arsene (alias Cora) walked off the ship
where—“Tout individu est libre
aussitôt qu’il est en France”—
and was by French law free(d)

Cynthia Hogue
from her book Or Consequence
Mammoth Books, 2010
used by permission of the poet

This poem was catalogued in Poems and written by Cynthia Hogue. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Hogue

Cynthia Hogue has published seven collections of poetry. She taught in the MFA program at the University of New Orleans, served as director for the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University, and joined the Department of English at ASU as the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry.

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