My girlfriend is an aspiring writer, and is working on her Bachelor's in Creative Writing. One of her assignments was to write a form poem called a sestina. A sestina requires some words to be used repeatedly in specific places, throughout the poem, so, it sounds redundant, but such is the nature of the form.
She wrote her sestina, titled "Acadiana", out of fond rememberance of our trip to New Iberia. She, her daughter and I spent 4 amazing days there, and did not want to leave. You will notice she refers to her blossoming child (who was 14 at the time the poem was written), and makes a singular reference to me, when I (unaware I was saying it loud enough to be heard) remarked on how I felt at home in New Ibeia.
Anyway, Acadiana. Hope you like it.
We wandered South, watching for magnolias
Their blooms shining in the glossy tangle of deep green leaves like caught stars.
We stopped so I could pick one. Skin soft petals, waxy-warm like chapel candles,
Heavy perfume filled the car- sweet, foreign, like some siren lullaby
Drawing us down to the Delta, to a town on the banks of the river.
A place we’d never been, but which somehow, felt familiar as a childhood home.
When we arrived, he said, with some wonderment, “I think I’m home.”
I put the thirsty magnolia
In an empty coke can filled with water from the river
We watched the sleek boats hum past, leaving wakes filled with reflected stars.
The fireflies lit the dark like candles,
As the river and the nightbirds and the frogs wove their peculiar lullaby.
At a misplaced Lourdes, the faithful lit their candles
And prayed for those who’d wandered far from home;
The mothers chant their prayers with the cadence of a lullaby.
The prayers rise with the mingled scent of incense and magnolia-
Prayers for sons grown, who now sleep on sand, under foreign stars,
And dream of this peaceful town that rests in the curve of the river
Which lays along the town’s side like a sleeping lover. The river
Flows past churches, their stained glass ablaze from the light of the pilgrim’s candles,
And city squares where stone saints stand in crowns that radiate in round points of stars.
From every church the river gathers the prayers of mothers, carrying them home
To the heart of God. Prayers mingled with the sweet breath of the magnolias,
Whispered in the gentle Cajun French of mother-love and lullabies.
We hear this language of lullabies
In every town that lays in the embrace of this mother-river.
The sweet women call my daughter “Cher”, and admire the magnolia
She’s pinned in her tawny hair. She lights candles
In St. Martinville for Evangeline, and poses for a picture on the steps of Evangeline’s home
Geraniums litter the stone stairs with blossoms dropped like tears, little crimson stars
For lovely girls to walk upon. My lovely girl imagines walking under the stars
Of another age, and hearing the lullaby
Of water against the side of a ship, bearing her far from home.
She imagines herself Evangeline, as she walks beside the river,
Petite Cher, walking under Evangeline’s Oak, dreaming of love; your life is yet an unlit candle
Oh child! My heart is breaking as I am watching you bloom like the magnolia.
Under other stars, you will someday walk, there you will find love, and home.
While I keep, close to my heart, a picture of a sunlit girl with a magnolia in her hair, a girl who asked her Mama for lullabies
In simpler days. And I will come to little Lourdes, and I will light my candles, and cast my prayers like flower petals on the winding river.