Grieving in Louisiana

A poem by Paul Unruh:


April and May 2010

Part I

Grieve for the red fish and the trout

That lie belly up

Near the marsh grasses

Grieve for the brown pelican

That flounders on the riverbank

Instead of gliding proudly over

Grieve for the dolphin nearby

With oil in its eyes and nostrils

And a death ache in its stomach

Grieve for the sea turtle

The raccoon

And the lowly nutria

Grieve for the prairie marsh

As it soaks up the crude

And its ecological cycle begins to warp

Grieve for the Vietnamese and the Cambodians who survived war, Katrina and Rita

But who now sit in silence on their boats

At night time.

Grieve for the Houma, the Cajun, the Atakapa and the African American

Whose ancestral way of life is being altered

Without their permission

Grieve for the eleven

Who died while at work

On the sea

Part II

Pray for the children who do not understand

The unspoken fear and sadness

On the faces of their parents

Pray for the parents who wonder

Whether their children will learn

Their ancestral way of life

Pray for Venice, Boothville, Buras, Triumph, Empire and Port Sulphur

And for their roots

Sunk deep in the oily marsh

Pray for us all, that we may yet find a way to save the earth

And to teach our sons and daughters

To fish

Paul Unruh

Louisiana Coast. June9.2010. photo by Lois Nickel

Paul Unruh is a volunteer and consultant with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) from the Shalom Mennonite Church in Newton Kansas. He is currently working on the Gulf Coast. Thanks to Lois Nickel, Director Regional Relations & Programs at MDS for forwarding this poem to me, and to Paul for giving me permission to share it.

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