In April 2011, the International Writing Program launched " Writers in Motion", a study tour of the Mid-Atlantic and the American South, where eight international writers are exploring the theme of "Fall and Recovery." The writers are traveling to Gettysburg (April 3-5), Baltimore (April 5-6), New Orleans (April 6-8), the Gulf Coast (Morgan City, the Achafalaya Basin, Lafayette, April 8-11), Birmingham, AL (April 11-12) and Washington, D.C. (April 13-15) to examine some of the challenges presented by historical crises and upheavals, both natural and social.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Small Prayer for the Unflummoxed Beaver

so unmoved by the boat’s slow approach – the boat

drifting across the flat green acre of water; a small prayer

for these acres of water which, in the low light, seem firm;

the squirrels, however, are never fooled or taken in;

a small prayer for the squirrels and their unknowable

but perfect paths; see how they run across

the twisting highway of cedars, but never crash;

a small prayer for the cedars and their dead knees

dotting the water like tombstones;

a prayer for the cedar balls that break

as you touch them, and stain your fingers yellow,

and release from their tiny bellies the smell of old

churches, of something holy; a prayer for the holy

alligators; you owe them at least that;

just last night you thought of Hana and asked them

to pray with you (the prayers of alligators are potent);

at night the grass is full of their red and earnest eyes;

a prayer for the grass that alligators divide

in the shape of a never-ending S; you lean over

to gather it because your friend says it can be cooked

with salt and oil; she says in Burma it is called

Ka-Na-Paw; a prayer for the languages we know

this landscape by; a prayer for the fragile French

spoken by the bayou’s fat fishermen, the fat fishermen

who admit to the bayou, we all dying. You understand?

Savez? A prayer for the bayou and its bayouness

and the fabulously unflummoxed beaver,

so unmoved by the boat’s slow approach.

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