Grace Episcopal Church, St. Francisville, Louisiana. (This is English Louisiana, hence the Union Jack)

A reader writes to say he came last year to Walker Percy Weekend in St. Francisville, and was so moved by the opening night party next to the live-oak shaded churchyard of Grace Episcopal that he wrote this extraordinary poem:

Summer Night Grace Episcopal Cemetery

I, too, it seems have come to socialize
among the dead, scattered man that I am,
the old cemetery to walk with my
fellow revelers, brightly dressed in soft
cottons and linens. Yet, we may come to
some small saving recognition moving
among rows of the dead, their graves adorned
with votive candles, the flickering fire light
dancing on wicks to catch fire in our
diverted eyes. Laughing voices ring clear
as the tolling bell, which souls
might hear beneath head stones worn smooth from
a million rains. And lush the greens of grass,
of leaves, of moss, charged to life from summer
rain and the sponge, damp summer air, set a
different face against the wordless dead
laying in the dark moist earth, their embodiment,
for a time, traveling through the roots and
up the trunks and out the branches so they
might rest the night-sleeping dove and
awaken thoughtfulness from our thoughtless
hours.

The rain-dampened canopy sends drops to
drip cool upon bare shoulders, the brow, running
quick and wild down the cheek and pool in the
cradle of the neck, while a thousand
whispers fall unfurled from ancient oaks
bowed and burdened with our history:
Ora pro nobis.
Ora pro nobis.
Ora pro nobis.

Grace Church cemetery is that kind of place. St. Francisville is that kind of place. Walker Percy Weekend inspires these kinds of thoughts. We would love to see you this year, on June 1-2. There will be books, there will be lectures, there will be beer, crawfish, and bourbon. There will be Mary Pratt Percy Lobdell and Huger Foote talking on stage about their daddies, Walker and Shelby.

And there will be Grace.

Buy your tickets here. Remember, we only have a limited number of tickets, so don’t put it off.