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A Cajun Wake

by Elizabeth Burk

It could have been one of his paintings
green fields stretching to the horizon
shimmering in a prism of heat
shades of lime green, mossy green,
mint green, jaded green

of flooded rice fields tinged
with the yellow, blue and gold
of a Provence summer, and overhead,
Elemore's carmine-streaked
curlicue clouds.

Here on his beloved Louisiana prairie
the tribe gathered carrying coolers
and canvas chairs, sporting straw hats, sandals,
open-necked white and brightly colored shirts.

It might have been the scene of a picnic,
but for the blotched faces, wet cheeks,
Mary and her daughters greeting guests out front,
their blue eyes reddened,
nodding, smiling at our memories.

Farther back on the grassy plain
two tents overflowed with crawfish etouffe
and fiddle music, accompanied by accordion,
guitar, the chanky-chank sounds of bayou
Elemore's life, as he had celebrated them.

And nestled in the fields
the house Elemore built,
using cypress remnants rescued
from his grandfather's house
in Baton Rouge. Inside,
a winding staircase spiraling skywards,

to a turret where Elemore invited me
one afternoon to share his sweeping view
from above, his words like his brush
transforming the landscape, teaching me
how to embrace Louisiana as my home.

In memory of Elemore Morgan, Jr.
First Published in
Fall 2009, Volume 42, Page 97

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