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A Poetic Life on the River Cane

By Ron Cook

Two years ago, I spent a month largely on the Cane River at what is known, in Louisiana, as a camp. This was a home right on the Cane with a large beautiful back covered patio where I could sit and enjoy the river, the rain and the wildlife that moved up and down the Cane each day. During this time, I wrote some poetry that has felt like some of my most inspired. That has everything to do with the inspiration and less to do with the writer, I have found.

The River Cane seems to represent many important aspects of life in Louisiana. It meanders sometimes wide, sometimes narrow, for many, many miles. It is tied closely to the history of river life and French/American history of the state. It brings life and recreation to land, people and wildlife. Its lush presence is a direct connection to the lush life on its banks, as well as the rich traditions of the people of Louisiana.

Poetry has a long tradition, in language, as the mode of careful selection of the perfect word. Prose may expound on a topic or subject. Poetry attempts to capture the moment in which the subject lives. For that reason, prose may be done with research, investigation and knowledge. Poetry can only be done with a Muse … Prose may follow thoughts. Poetry must find epiphanies. I have found that I can write prose over time and space. Poetry must be written “in the moment,” while the Muse is present. Waiting on poetry is to lose the Muse, so to speak. I wrote these two poems sitting in an outdoor open patio on the shore of the River Cane in different rain storms. Each had to be written in the moment. Each one came complete with a theme, beginning, body and ending. Each one is a tribute to the gifts of the River from which it came …

Raining on the Cane
(January 17, 2017)

It’s raining on the River Cane,

All night, perhaps all day …
It’s Like Creation’s Jesus Prayer,
Unceasing, steady, plain.

The birds are in the reeds I’m told,
No singing this day do,
They hide and wait and busy selfs,
With tasks wet birds pursue.

They sang a symphony last night,
Before the rains did start,
An introduction to the prayer,
The rain would soon impart.

It was a symphony so grand,
It lasted sweet long time,
Completely out of tune and yet,
Perfect in its blend!

So… sitting in the heart of prayer,
The eye of Nature’s pleas,
I feel the coolness of the day,
And smell prayer’s fragrant breeze.

Thank you, Dear Life, for granting me,
A pew this holy morn,
To see and feel and smell Rain’s prayer,
To be held in your arms.

Here is another poem that came on this same patio on another rainy day. This poem notably focuses on a type of butterfly that is not usually seen at this time of year. The writing also, unknown to me at the time, coincided with the eighteenth year of the passing of my youngest daughter … butterflies were her favorite creatures.

The Yellow Butterfly
(January 14, 2017)

What must it be to wake one day,
Asleep like death enclosed,
To wake and find the world has changed,
In wings you’re now disposed!!??

Up like a shot without a thought,
You rise above the ground!
Your slowish feet, all now delete,
You soar without a sound!!

What great delight creation gives,
This lowly earthen worm,
To raise it up for faithful flight,
A morph in Nature’s turn!

So up she goes and flits about,
Without care or concern,
She doesn’t question how this is,
Just loves her new return!

She visits all she’s longed to see,
While crawling through her world,
But now can visit all she loves,
With sweet kisses she unfurls!

And as I sit and watch this sight,
A miracle so grand,
I thank the Yellow Butterfly,
For teaching me God’s plan …

Ronald Cook

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