Thursday, July 30, 2009

POETRY FROM A POET LAUREATE

My friend, Darrell Bourque, Poet Laureate of Louisiana, lost his mother two days ago, and I know most certainly that poets and writers in Louisiana grieve for him and his loss, sensitive and gentle man that he is. I wrote about Darrell in a previous blog, and my blog is among many articles that have praised him for his contribution to the Arts in Louisiana, especially the art of poetry. He has taught and affirmed so many aspiring poets, both as a distinguished professor of English and Creative Writing and as Poet Laureate. He still reaches out to me, here at Sewanee, with his poetry and his encouragement for me to continue publishing the small chapbooks of my poetry Border Press has published for several years.

Darrell is the heart of Acadiana, writing in his elegant style about art, music, family and other people of the region in a genuine, deep rooted voice. Reading his poetry is like getting an infusion of grace. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if I include in my blog a wonderful poem he wrote about his mother in his work, THE BLUE BOAT. As I told him in a message of sympathy, no eulogy for his mother by anyone else could surpass this cameo entitled “My Mother’s Memory, Portrait:”

“My Mother’s Memory, Portrait”

With my mother it was always about not forgetting.
Early on she tied me to her. She was dedicated
to the physics and the flowers of memory.
My life under her tutelage would be a simple life.
Not forgetting the lines in the garden was my first lesson
in geometry even though I wouldn’t know that for a long time.
Then there were other lessons of clear and clean effect.
Not forgetting to get to the road for the bus on school mornings.
Not forgetting that meals were for the construction of who we were
to be – not forgetting and just getting up and walking away
when one was full. Not forgetting to make my Easter Duties.
Not forgetting to visit my father’s grave on the windy prairie.
Not forgetting to bring back only what was on the grocery list.
Remembering not to complain of the size of the bags I was given
to walk home with. She put nothing on the list she didn’t have to have.
Remembering that a life cut away from past life is illusion.
Not forgetting to forge a life that was just my own.
To make us remember she used to send us back
to our houses with packs of frozen okra and sacks
of unhusked corn, with purple-hull peas and crates of potatoes,
with seven-steaks and pork roasts, with gumbos and jambalayas.
She tried her best to always be at the table if she could.
One day we remembered her in the peppers and the garlic,
one day in the shallots, in parsleys and green onion tops.
Another day it was flaked coconut in creamed icings,
or in little squares of chocolate as dark and sweet as fear.
Darrell Bourque -
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