Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Backwater Tales"

This poem came out of the May 3, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was prompted and sponsored by laffingkat.  Yes, Cajun folklore includes a great many odd critters, and much of it has never been recorded.  Some people have made inroads, though.  Finding a third example for this poem took some digging.

Backwater Tales

The Cajuns know how to survive
in a world full of swamps and monsters and
men who don't mind hurting folks to get what they want.

"Be good,"
they tell their children,
"or the loup garou  will get you."
So it is that a man becomes a wolf
when he forgets his manners and runs wild.

"Be careful,"
they tell their teenagers,
"when you wander the swamps at night,
or the feu follet  will come lead you astray."
For you must always know where you are going
and how to resist dangerous temptations that pass your way.

"Be faithful,"
they tell each other,
"or the létiche  that swims in the bayou
will upset your boat and dump you into the water."
The souls of unbaptized infants weigh on the parents' memories
whispering about the chances they should have had but never got.

They don't write down
these quaint little cautions.
These are only for storytelling;
the were never meant for book-learning.

Let the damnyankees learn things the hard way.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, writing
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