HomeSouthern VoiceLearning to Love Louisiana

Learning to Love Louisiana

by Elizabeth Burk

“Where are the mountains?”
I ask, after an hour’s drive
through flat-filled landscapes
of sugar cane and rice fields, miles
without trees, unprotected from open sky.

Some call it the prairie—
the name blows wide open
the shut down, frightened spaces
in my heart,

transforms this stripped bare
boggy land into primal frontier—
grand vistas of grassy earth
framed by cloudscapes,

dotted with tin shacks, trailers
huddled like hitchhikers
by the side of the road,

the lackadaisical towns, windows
boarded, looking in daytime
as though they were shut down
for the night,

the gray mist’s endless drizzle
filling the swamps, marshes, basins
to the brim. Why not surrender,

succumb, languish at the edge
of a rice field, watching the wind
sway the marshy grasses

out here on the prairie,
so close to god,
where there is no place to hide?

Elizabeth Burk is a psychologist who divides her time between a practice in New York and a husband in southwest Louisiana. Her work has appeared in CALYX, RATTLE, Atlanta Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology: Louisiana, The Louisiana Review, South Carolina Review, New Madrid and other journals. Her poems have also been read on public radio and her work performed at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Arts. This poem comes from her chapbook of the same name. Click here to find out how you can win a copy today.

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