We, that is to say the bright-eyed beauty lying next to me, and the young souls in this house, and I, we are from Louisiana, or, I should say, we are of Louisiana because we’ve never left. And also because its place between land and water seems to have contributed to what we are. And, having said Louisiana twice now, I’m going to give you a moment or two to allow all those associations you have to the word to just run freely through your mind; Cajuns, Creoles, blackened cooking, Evangeline, the Mississippi River and the Delta, and the bayous, French Quarter, Dixieland, Tremé, okra, filé, plantations, corruption, BAM! Katrina, yes, now we’re better than we ever were thank you very much, except now, of course, BAM!, they’ve buried Ebola deep in the heart of us. I’ll leave you to that while I turn my attention to the open bedroom window, drawn by the sound of the sudden upsweep of wind dragging the fragrance of night jasmine and other low-lying plants along the trunks of the great live oaks, shivering their branches, quivering their leaves.

 

It being Louisiana and it being July, the heat and mist shimmy above the land like a miasma and every father of a fille, and many a father of a fils, lies awake, tight-jawed and tight-fisted in the very early morning, listening for their children (their mothers are also lying awake but with other things on the mind) and wondering which child, this morning, despite all precautions, will come wandering back out of the woods, stunned and transmogrified by what they were doing, lying in the dew poison, on the banks of the swollen mother river. They will’ve had no thought to how this would change everything for them, for better or for worse, a forward-looking father will be thinking, here.

 

But we only somewhat heavy-hearted fathers recognize we have enough French in us to know that the word “poison” comes from “potion," and that when backward-looking, those daughters will ever remember mostly the magic of that night (as their mothers do, to this day). Those, knowing by some insight that they were pregnant, returned to their homes amongst Cajuns, Creoles, blackened cooking, Evangeline, the Mississippi River and the Delta, and the bayous, French Quarter, Dixieland, Tremé, okra, filé, plantations, corruption, BAM! Katrina, yes, now we’re better than we ever were thank you very much, except now, of course, BAM!, they’ve buried Ebola deep in the heart of us, and to the boys they grew up with, I mean. But not those others that do not return, that never look back through the brume, and whose fathers and, ever more so, mothers, wait, tight-jawed and tight-fisted in the early morning, listening for those of their children.

c. h. burgess

Dew Poison

 

 

 

C. H. Burgess received a BS and MS in Linguistics from Georgetown University. Burgess has lived in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East and now writes full-time in Washington DC. Burgess has been fortunate to attend workshops with Robert Bausch, Richard Bausch, Jill McCorkle, and Kate Blackwell, as well as attending last summer’s Squaw Valley Writer’s Conference.