Saturday, September 15, 2018

"BENEATH THE SURFACE"*



This morning as I watch the flickering images of flooding in North Carolina and South Carolina on television, I remember the catastrophic storms that have inundated parts of my home town, New Iberia, Louisiana, throughout the years. Two years ago I published a book of poetry entitled A Slow Moving Stream (the Bayou Teche that flows through New Iberia and southwest Louisiana) and included a poem about the great flood of 1927 that inundated Acadiana. Since that time, New Iberia has endured many hurricanes and floods, but this 20th century storm caused incalculable deaths and damage in Teche country.

Karen Bourque, master glass artist in Church Point, Louisiana, captured in glass the cover for A Slow Moving Stream, the Bayou Teche near Arnaudville, Louisiana, which became a torrent of water during the flood of 1927. I acquired the glass piece entitled “Beneath the Surface,” and it now hangs in one of the dining room windows of our home in Sewanee, Tennessee. 

Karen always provides a text to accompany her glasswork, but rather than writing a text about the inundations of the Teche, Karen wrote that the glass piece for A Slow Moving Stream symbolizes Spring, “the dominant seasonal reference in the piece…and is symbolic of the time of renewal. Spring, either as time measure or metaphor, marks that time when the soul awakens inside the crossing of a water barrier, that time when unconscious mind and conscious mind surface and co-exist in the balance of renewed beginnings…”

Karen’s words constitute hope this morning. As I look up at the glass piece, her text helps to dispel my angst about the devastation due to storms and floods now battering the Carolinas, and I pray more fervently for those who are enduring this natural disaster.

In the last verse of “The Flood of 1927,” I describe the responses of those Acadians who migrated from Pisiguit, Nova Scotia, site of my ancestors who survived the great inundation of that century:

“They could not believe a levee had existed,

the land returning to a muddy geography

into which they climbed,

marveling at the ease of light,

declaring they’d never go back to Pisiguit

even if rocking tide caused the land to tilt

and the sky to become an ocean.

What had been green would be green again."

*Title of glass piece rendered by Karen Bourque, Church Point, Louisiana glass artist


Photograph by Victoria I. Sullivan


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