“Elegy for a Bayou” by Christopher Cessac

Christopher Cessac


Those who can love a concrete sewage ditch
have plans to pave the swamp that taught you right

from wrong, water snake from cottonmouth.
What your grandmothers found in Hail Mary

after Hail Mary, whatever good comes
from transcendental meditation, what Byron

or Bierce was looking for when each found death,
you found with ease—johnboat, duck-call, fly-rod.

What remains for now of your bayou is clogged
with hulking cypress, trunks draped in burdens

of Spanish moss, worn like gray beards on men
who have outlived their wives and aspirations

… history’s only plot: men escaping
from cities, men who abhor their neighbors, set sail,

go west, with selfish reasons to abolish hell
or taxes—forgetful men who always die

with hopes their children build a town with roads,
potable water, police, convenience and art.

from Rattle #17, Summer 2002


Christopher Cessac: “This poem is for my grandfather, Adras LaBorde, who was a writer and a naturalist from Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana.”

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