Chorus of frogs ushers in first night at Lake Jackson
The internationally renowned poet Michael Rothenberg and his wife Terri Carrion had invited me from California as a part of their new 100 Thousand Poets for Change On Lake Jackson residency program.
I live on the central California coast, in a tiny beach town where I moved several years ago in a fortunate turn of events that offered me a way out from big city woes and complications. I was born and raised in the western United States, the only child of immigrant parents, one from South America and the other from Morocco. This was my first time visiting the South.
After a whirlwind week in pre-Mardi Gras New Orleans, I rented a car and drove out to Florida. Driving the 10 was a breeze, but long. I arrived at night. My GPS stopped functioning. I pulled over to call Michael and Terri to ask what to do from there.
They approached my car out of the dark. They had been expecting this. “You are officially off the grid now, Youssef.” They guided me into the driveway. Michael couldn’t wait for me to unpack the car. “Follow me,” he said.
He led me in the dark, by the shirt sleeve, to the back of his giant, looming, Tudor style multi-roomed brick and wood cathedral house, past the screened-in lower porch, past the bubbling fish pond, stepping into the dipping grass under giant tree branches draped with flowing Spanish moss, and he said “Here. Shhh. Listen.”
Lake Jackson spoke to us, there, privately in the dark, the two of us humans, me teetering for balance after a five-hour drive, he after weeks of waiting for this moment, and the birds cawed and exclaimed, the frogs grunted and chirped alternately, and the crickets sang out. The whole orchestra performed as jubilant and exclamatory as it had ever been, since primordial times…READ FULL ARTICLE ONLINEresa Carrion)
My ears have been opened and I am so very thankful for this opportunity. I will remember Lake Jackson and its constituents fondly, as a companion, a friend, and a teacher.
Youssef Alaoui-Fdili, poet and publisher of Paper Press, is a Moroccan-Latino, born in California.
About Poets for Change
The 100 Thousand Poets for Change On Lake Jackson Residency Program was launched in February of 2017. Each year it will bring five poets from around the world to stay on Lake Jackson to work on their writing, read with local poets, teach a class in a school, and contribute to the upcoming anthology, “On Lake Jackson.”
The Friends of Lake Jackson is a civic organization devoted to the environmental protection and sustainable use of the lake. Visit http://www.friendsoflakejackson.org to learn more and become a Friend today