The Blessing of the Shrimp Fleet

a coast under clouds

This article originally appeared in Southern Exposure Vol. 10 No. 3, "Coastal Affair." Find more from that issue here.

(Bayou LaBattre, Louisiana)


By Gail White


In my third-floor office, windowless, climate-controlled,

there is no annual Blessing of Computers.

Archbishop Technology has blessed us

with self-correcting typewriters beyond

the reach of sinister Fate, with dictaphones

that break down less than stars, and copiers

that deal in water-colors, ink, and oils.


The boats know better. They’ve been overruled

by experts: Fate’s in charge on the open water.

They throw themselves on Fate, bound hand and foot.

Therefore, if scented candles will drive away

the oil-spill from the oyster-beds, if prayers

will bless the single-veined transparent shrimp

with fertile marriages, if holy water

has power on storms — let there be candles, prayers,

and water in abundance! Let the boats

be painted, decked with flags and stocked with beer,

and give one riotous day to celebrate

our helplessness before we must despair

from the same cause.