I’m a woman from the deep south. For generations, my family has lived in the swamps of Louisiana. There is much to love about it, much not to love, and much more to reflect on.
By Courtney Naquin
Slowly, southern Louisiana is being erased as the older generations leave us and as each flood becomes more destructive than the last. The more I realize this, the more I write about it.
This poetry gives you a little window into my life as a blue collar southern woman. I use a lot of Christian imagery since it was an integral part of my life and part of the shame I felt growing up as a woman in the south. However, the imagery also connects me to my family and to something larger than us and where we are from.
A Southern Belle is an aristocratic woman of the lavish South, rich in peaches, pecans, fine clothes, land and large homes. Above all else, she is considered a woman of God, as all her surrounding luxury seems to create what Heaven must be. We will call the other woman, simply though aptly, a Southern Ugly.
The Moon’s Daughter (English Version)
There is a girl called Southern Ugly,
She often faces the mirror- Believing
that the reflection must be herself.
But a woman’s essence
Lives in the light, not in our eyes.
Mother Mary, dressed in blue-
Your daughter sees her face, knowing
That she is not first to be saved for Heaven.
We come second to God,
Though Man did not deny the apple.
Mother said, “You are a southern belle,
Just baptized in the bayou.
Virgin in the water,
The depths of the swamp do not foster
Power nor Fortune
But your birth, the prayer of the Moon.
And like a cypress knee
That has not yet broken the surface,
You’re hidden in wisdom unknown.”
La Fille de La Lune (French Version)
Il y’a une fille- connu comme La Laid du Sud,
Souvent elle se place en face le miroir-
Elle crois que le reflection soit soi-même,
Mais la conception de femme
Vie en la lumière, pas en nos yeux.
En bleu y’a La Mère Marie,
Ta fille vois son visage, sachant
Que le triage d’entre chez-Jésus ne lui inclut.
On vient deuxième à dieu,
Bien que l’homme n’a pas nié la pomme.
Mère disait, “T’es une belle du sud
Mais Baptisée dans le bayou-
Vierge en l’eau,
Le fond de Marais n'héberge puissance
Mais ton naissance, la prie de La Lune.
Et comme un genou de cyprès,
Dont vient briser la surface si près,
T’es cachée en sagesse inconnu.”
Does Heaven Look Much Like Port Arthur? (For Janis Joplin)
Your childhood home is up for sale, but
no one wants to remember why you left.
Your face is used for tourist advertisements on billboards
next to the others that say,
"Are you going to Heaven or Hell? Call now.”
All the men that loved you, and the women that no one knew
about- are they with you now?
Is the Mercedes Benz
all the luxury that the Neches
The only voice that ever
bellowed out from
the belly of that forsaken water,
(from boredom, for freedom)
did not die from an overdose.
They condemned her
The moment she began