Alison Pelegrin

Myth of Myself

Coonass mystic is an easy sell, an explanation
          for the regional, ancestral bitterness

I pass off as a mystery. Also I have fancied myself
          a jester of the bayou, sage among dimwits,

passing a good time and writing poems
          in my shame-tamed ragin’ Cajun accent.

My name embroidered on a bookmark—
          Alison—means “truthful one” in Greek,

a stretch, though I ran with it.
          I made no claim to be part wolf after the dog

tore open my face, but never denied it either,
          polishing that story like a gem—rancid fear,

gash in my cheek so wide I saw my teeth
          snarling down from the ER’s mirrored lights.

I’m a Pisces and, so I know I’ll never drown.
          I give off a riot-ready vibe so that no one

comes close enough to notice my childish hobbies—
          cross stitching profanities, collecting

miniature bone china creatures, believing in magic
          because bashful ferns shutter at my touch.



Alison Pelegrin's most recent collection is Our Lady of Bewilderment, (LSU Press) this spring. She is the author of four previous poetry collections, including Big Muddy River of Stars, which won the 2006 Akron Poetry Prize, Hurricane Party (U. Akron), Our Lady of the Flood (Diode Editions), and Waterlines (LSU Press). A National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, her work has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Crazyhorse, and Gulf Coast. She is the writer-in-residence at Southeastern Louisiana University and lives in Covington with her family.