The Blessing of the Shrimp Fleet
(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.