Flooding Home


Photo by Trudy Gomez

If you pronounce chère as in chère ami like the longhaired pop singer formally married to Sonny Bono you probably don’t know much about our beloved homeland in south Louisiana we call Acadie. You have probably never stood on the bank of Lake Martin as the roseate spoonbills paint that lake in sunset colors. Nor have you ever fished for blue point crab with chicken necks on a string. Most likely, you haven’t watched a flock of great white cranes overhead in a clear blue sky surrounded by so many shades of green you no longer wonder about the vast selection of paint chips at the local hardware store. If you say crayfish instead of crawfish and pee-can instead of pa-cawn you have probably never stood in your mother’s kitchen smelling a dark roux awaiting the holy trinity of onions, celery, and bell pepper or heard the sound of a spoon striking the black-iron skillet that was handed down through generations of one pot cooks. If you think only of mother and father and brother and sister when you hear the word family, then you probably never attended a Sunday dinner at your grandmère’s house that included four generations of family that could number 50 or more. If you don’t know that French is our first language and the ear of our elders translated English differently than you, you wouldn’t know that the zinc is where you wash the dishes, the ice box is a refrigerator, the hose pipe is used to water your garden and the campus parked in your backyard is the RV camper that your 30 year old cousin is living in until he can find a job. If you don’t know any of these things, then you probably don’t know that in this 500-year flood event of 2016 we do appreciate your prayers and your donations, and while we could use some help, we are not waiting on you. We are picking up the pieces and taking care of each other. We have been doing this in south Louisiana since before the Great Derangement. This land of abundance and immeasurable beauty is our home and we are its people who know it and believe in its resilience. How could we not when we have done it for so long? So if you want to talk about us on CNN, you might consider changing your tone from pity to admiration.

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Bessie Senette

Bessie Senette is the author of Cutting the Clouds: a Bayou Mystic’s Poems, Musings, and Imaginings – an autobiographical collection of poems and essays about the life and culture of her bayou upbringing and the spirituality that informs her traditional healing gifts. Her current work-in-progress is Louisiana Pines: Homeland Poems and Vignettes; a chapbook that poetically explores her beloved home state.

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