ELEGY FOR A BAYOU
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.”