Martha Serpas

Fragments of The Sacrificial World
May 26, 2022 Serpas Martha

Fragments of The Sacrificial World


Porpoises feed every morning in the shallows
it’s hard to tell tail from fin      even
on flatwater
My dog belly-up scratches her back on some pelican froth
at the hightide line      hard to tell snout from tail
She finds dead things in the rough
a joie this morning we share
A fleet of white pelicans seems somewhat acquainted
with the porpoises’ drill
in an indifferent kind of way
in a we’re-really-not-looking-for-a-hand-out
kind of way
And if I think a shrimp eel has written my name in the sand there’s always
ecotheory and the justified tide     to set me right
Weather     and the rough disappears and
per se and     absence tangles me
the rough recedes
the rough covers the levee
the rough disappears
Twenty-one white jewels pinned
to the seam of the gulf     a frayed watchpocket
a long hem                   wind that won’t lay down
Grand Isle Invocation
                        Park near the cemetery
                        where there is a playground and picnic tables.
                        Some of the best birds of the day have been seen here while eating lunch.
                                                            —Orleans Audubon Society
The warblers, vireos and thrushes fall out
their three-day spring-break drunk
into oak     and hackberry          They’ve stopped to see
if the island is still dying and since it is
they continue on…
(I too can be seen here     misplaced…)
Before I die a single live oak will catch
their exhaustion    They will cubby
like high-tops hung from the Loneliest Road
in America          They will sing the LSU fight song
and take the 18-hour flight        the red-eye
back to Cancún

Martha Serpas is the author of three collections of poetry, The Diener (LSU); The Dirty Side of the Storm (Norton); and Côte Blanche (New Issues). Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, Southwest Review, and Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, as well as in a number of anthologies, including the Library of America’s American Religious Poem and The Art of the Sonnet. She holds degrees in English and creative writing from Louisiana State, New York University, and the University of Houston, and a master of divinity from Yale Divinity School. A native of south Louisiana, she remains active in efforts to restore Louisiana’s wetlands. Since 2006 she has worked as a trauma chaplain at Tampa General Hospital. She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at The University of Houston