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Recorded for the Academy of American Poets, October 2017. www.poets.org

About this poet

Alison Pelegrin was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received an MFA from the University of Arkansas.

Pelegrin is the author of Waterlines (Louisiana State University Press, 2016); Hurricane Party (University of Akron Press, 2012); Big Muddy River of Stars (University of Akron Press, 2007), which received the 2006 Akron Poetry Prize; and The Zydeco Tablets (Word Press, 2002).

About Pelegrin’s poetry, Martha Serpas writes, “Alison Pelegrin is one of the sharpest wits to come out of the Bayou State in a long time. She can conjure Louisiana’s present-tense, unapologetic, tragicomic drama with authenticity.”

Pelegrin is the recipient of a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches at Southeastern Louisiana University and lives in Covington, Louisiana.


Bibliography

Waterlines (Louisiana State University Press, 2016)
Hurricane Party (University of Akron Press, 2012)
Big Muddy River of Stars (University of Akron Press, 2007)
The Zydeco Tablets (Word Press, 2002)

Our Lady of the Flood

               Louisiana, August 2016

Lady, is that you, with a citronella halo,
ghosting the mud-milk waters
with a laundry basket of kittens in one arm?
You are no mythic Saint Medard, sheltered
from rain beneath an eagle’s wing,
but a hands-on angel of the earthly kind—
sweaty, with a burden of buckets and bleach,
surefooted through labyrinths of debris.
You take meals in church parking lots,
thankful for whatever is served.
Some saints are untouchable behind glass,
but you ride in open boats
with mildew on the hem of your gown,
a calm commander of the Cajun Navy’s fleet.
Your devotees worship outside
in a circle of ruined pews,
no incense but bug spray, their voices
a capella because the music of the drowned piano
is too sad to sing to. They remain faithful
because you are the one constant,
honored in front gardens and kitchen shrines.
You with your shrimp boots and rubber gloves—
without flinching you lead and they follow,
walking on water to the safety of each other.

Copyright © 2017 Alison Pelegrin. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2017.

Copyright © 2017 Alison Pelegrin. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2017.

Alison Pelegrin

Alison Pelegrin

Alison Pelegrin is the author of Waterlines (Louisiana State University Press, 2016).