Poems: Teche Series
These poems were inspired in part by the memoire of Melanie Durand Grossman entitled Crossing Bayou Teche. Being from southern Louisiana and having relatives in and around St. Martinville, Melanie's book was especially meaningful to me.
I hope you enjoy the poems. They were fun and fulfilling to write.
- Glenn Currier
Puffs of Dust Print this poem only
The smell of new rain
permeates the air
the first heavy drops raise little puffs of dust in the dirt.
Covered porches protect her
from the storm outside
and the dread inside
where benign neglect reigned
ennui and death strained
threatened to pull apart
the joy sleeping in their wondrous souls
that lived beyond the confines
of the dark brooding grip of family
inside the ancestral home.
Summer Nights on the Porch Print this poem only
June bugs crash into screens
to get in by any means
dogs howl, frogs croak
like the bass fiddle
in Lightning Hopkins’ blues.
Sticky moisture from the bayou
envelopes, and soaks through,
permeates still night air
like the sad strains of Claude’s La Mer.
Growing up in southern climes
slowed days, stretched years
put me on the edge of tears
yearning for escape from there
from dominion of church
and Mama’s monarch perch.
Hints of her softness
were so rare and spare
that when she let us smooth her hair
we forgot how parched were we
for a trace of this tender intimacy
on summer nights’ scorch
spent on our homestead porch.
Author’s Note: Before the advent of air conditioning families, especially children, spent lots of time on their front porches. This poem is an attempt to describe the experiences of one little Cajun-French girl.
Being a Caterpillar Print this poem only
The feeling of fear meeting someone for the first time
the delight looking at a little child playing
near ecstasy smelling a magnolia blossom
a secure feeling upon seeing Pampas Grass.
The unsafe feeling being with the blonde man
who had been nothing but kind to me
then… finally I remembered
the sandy-haired boy who made an object of me
at age seven behind the barn on a summer day.
So much of the self is hidden
chaining me to the old
keeping me in a caterpillar state
stumbling over chunks of earth
ignorant of what can happen
in the cocoon.
But learning, writing, remembering
can make me a Monarch
flying into spring.
Author’s Note: I bow to Ray C. Stedman and his article: “The Great Mystery” and to Melanie Durand Grossman’s memoire, “Crossing Bayou Teche,” that brought a kind of enlightenment to her, her cousins, and others. The book effected in some of us a new awareness and freedom from formerly hidden realities that had shackled us to the past.
A Crossing Print this poem only
As she crossed the bayou
the dark lily-padded strip of water
seemed a gateway to a wider world.
The train departed
leaving her family and church behind
anxious but excited as the locomotive
slowly picked up steam headed for a world
she had only seen in pictures.
I am on the road
with infinite possibilities ahead
wrapped in a small universe I accept
but with freedom
always moving toward
a home with no limits.
Author’s note: Inspired by Melanie Durand’s memoire, ”Crossing Bayou Teche.” Poem three of my Teche series.
Invisible Wife Print this poem only
He was introduced to her
all the while looking through her
to see someone who mattered,
who was smart and degreed enough
for his time, after all, she was just the wife.
That gathering and others awakened her.
Now she insisted hubby’s clock hands
be wrapped around the kids’ small fingers.
He’d learn to tick with their hearts as he lingered.
The volume of her voice turned up a click or two
her own determination gently gliding through.
Not hawklike but now with a new edge
she, with fresh wings was no longer a fledge
as she declared she too would make the grade,
have her career, no longer invisible in the shade.
And… now she’s in demand as a speaker of note
with expertise surpassed only by her heart
she leans and listens with wisdom to impart,
life’s struggles and southern roots lend a common touch -
soaked in family love - no need for titles like doctor and such.
Author’s Note: Dedicated to Dr. Melanie Durand Grossman, gerontologist, author, and speaker. This poem is based on her memoire: Crossing Bayou Teche. I would imagine many women can relate to her story. She is still happily married to renowned cardiologist, William Grossman, with three grown children as well as grandchildren. Her story will inspire many wives who are still invisible.
This poem is part of my Teche series - also included on that page