The scene of the poem: The lawn in front of Beau Chene High School.

This piece I journaled seven years ago to the date after taking part in a writing exercise with a friend’s English IV AP class at rural Beau Chene High School in St. Landry Parish, LA.  The school is aptly named because of three majestic Live Oaks that grace the front lawn.  I prewrote for this poem under the sturdy branches of one of those elegant trees with my friend’s students.  This piece also memorializes those first months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 as we struggled to remember normal.

Everlasting Arms

Composed on Prairie Basse between Grand Coteau and Arnaudville, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, at Beau Chene High School.

October 2005


I came here to work . . .

The state paid the way!

And what am I doing on taxpayers’ time?
Writing poems!  (Tell not the governor.)

Yes, writing poems—

Under this grand Beau Chene.

The Poem …

How many storms has she weathered?

Timeless, ageless,

Her massive trunk–

Gnarled, sturdy girth–

Swells from sprawling roots

To spread everlasting arms

Arching up, over, and down

To kiss nurturing earth.

How many storms has she weathered?

And scattered neath her dappled shade

Etching innocence onto lined leafs of paper,

Her children, our children . . .

They write their poems.
How many storms must they weather,

Like this ancient matron?

Can they grow old, strong, and wise,

Weathering storms to come?

Days lately grow uncertain,

Normal a pained recollection

Of time

Before storms

Numbed our souls.
Yet this sturdy Oak

Stands fast,

Monument to time and weathered storms past.

A branching, leafy canopy




And everlasting arms

To embrace God’s children.