Haunted by the signs of death and
Destruction, heralded me in Spring,
Everywhere I started seeing Xs,
Walking and in dream.
Shadows crossed high above my bed,
Malcolm, multiply, on Manson’s head.
Railroad crossings, deleted at will,
X’d out, x-rated, cautions us still.
Sweet kisses written and sent,
Upside-down crucifixions of history past,
Sign your name here to last.
“Sours rature” questions being,
Jet whites X in the sky,
The darkness in my soul
Crosses my heart and hopes to die.
Exploring emotion through the
Language of X; how X is to U and ME,
Enlightened from crossed swords and
Ancient Sun, unfolding inner mysteries.
The story behind X.U.ME
My spirit belonged in New Orleans well before the journey of X.U.ME began. The Big Easy, full of decay, magic and delight, holds precious memories of my early courtship and the celebration of my secret wedding.
So when Hurricane Katrina threatened to destroy my beloved city, I was overcome with relief at the first news that she had been spared. Then the levees broke and the floods came. My universe shifted as grief and sadness enveloped me.
Six anxious months passed. In March 2006, armed with a mixture of hope and fear, my husband and I made our way back to New Orleans. For three days we roamed the high ground, wandering along the river from Audubon Park to beyond Jackson Square.
It was on our last day that we faced our true dread. An old cabbie took us to the areas outside the city where the real devastation lay. Like trespassers on a sacred battleground, we crept down the abandoned streets. I was overwhelmed by the endless landscape of loss and devastation. It was even worse than I had expected.
I was struck by the huge Xs grimly painted on buildings everywhere. A vast sea of Xs swept out before us. The vision seared into my memory as if by heated swords. I began to see Xs everywhere.
There in New Orleans, no one we asked knew exactly what the Xs stood for. So as soon as we returned home, I found out. Instead of being macabre symbols x-ing out all presence, the Xs were in fact a coding system used by he search and rescue teams. I learned that before a search began, the team sprayed one stroke of a large X on the side of the building best seen from the street. They wrote the team’s initials on the left and the date at the top. It was only when the search was over that the X was completed. On the right, they numbered the hazards, and at the bottom, the number of corpses found.
While I was stunned that the Xs marked the dead, I was comforted that they also protected the living. If a team of searchers went missing, volunteers would look for the building marked with only the stroke of the X and know that they were trapped inside.
The discovery that what I had perceived to be marks of annihilation were in fact useful tools did not diminish the visceral experience of seeing those Xs scrawled across my beloved city. For me, they will always be stigmatas of immense loss and unexpected death.
Haunted. Inspired. I became obsessed. The Xs marked the beginning of my new quest.