The Rocking Cradle

By Harriet Outlaw
Posted 6/3/16

Once a year, the Woman of the Swamps comes to the Swift-Coles House in Bon Secour for the Haunted Storytelling…

Come, mon Cherie, sit here and let me tell you my story. I live deep in marshy bogs where alligators, they bring me to see their …

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The Rocking Cradle

Posted

Once a year, the Woman of the Swamps comes to the Swift-Coles House in Bon Secour for the Haunted Storytelling…

Come, mon Cherie, sit here and let me tell you my story. I live deep in marshy bogs where alligators, they bring me to see their babies. I live in dark shadows of cypress limbs where water moccasins, they come, wrap around my ankles. Spanish Moss drape over us and hide our secrets.  My name is Jeannea’ but River People call me Woman of the Swamps; these people who come for potions and charms and blessings. These people who are my people who share my French forbearers.

   Thomas and Marie come from the old country many, many years gone by, perhaps to escape the French Revolution but never say. They come to the banks of these rivers where they live on gifts of water and land. Thomas, he fish and trap and make a cabin of pine logs for his family. The family, it grow to three children. Marie and Thomas good parents; Marie she rock each child in the cradle in her bedroom. The children grow; learn to use the gifts of the swamps and Mama’ Marie she teach them to read and write in English and in the French. Marie she keep the cradle in her bedroom hoping that again a baby she can rock to sleep there.

   When older, the two boys they go to school in Louisiana where cousins stay. The girl, Almeda, she learn things her mother Marie know. Marie she know about plants and their secrets. She teach Almeda plants to heal and plants of death.  Almeda often go with Mama’ to help bring new babies into the world of the River People.

Now, Marie know she have new baby to come. She think baby will come two months away, so she send Almeda to buy supplies. Thomas go on fish boat. After Thomas and Almeda gone, Marie she know baby will come that day. She prepare for baby and baby come while Marie all alone. She hold the dark haired girl, swaddle her, put her in cradle. She sing a French lullaby as she rock Baby Girl to sleep. Marie, she then return to bed, never to wake here again for she pass over to wake on the other side.

   When Almeda come home, she find Marie’s life gone and new baby in the cradle. She cry, but know Marie want her to be strong and so the girl she become a woman. The priest, he send for Thomas and boys to come home for the burial. All is sad here in this cabin, but Almeda she do things Mama’ taught her, and she care for baby and family. She work hard every day; sometime young Almeda, she sad and lonely. One night, when baby cry, Almeda sit up, and she see cradle rocking. She hear a French lullaby and baby girl go back to sleep. Almeda smile and know that Mama’ here to help her. One day Almeda hang clothes on line and late feeding baby, so she rush into the bedroom and there she see Mama’ bending over the cradle, singing to baby. Almeda feel love fill the room and she no alone now.

Almeda teach baby wonders of the swamps that Marie taught her. She good sister and mother to baby. Even when baby grow big, the cradle stay in the bedroom and rock all by itself when someone sad. When baby grow to woman and Thomas pass over, Almeda she marry Nicholas Frost and live in this cabin. Marie then come to rock the new babies.

Baby Girl, now woman, go to swamp where she live with  alligators who bring her to see their babies. She live in dark shadows of cypress limbs where the water moccasins, they come and wrap around her ankles. The Spanish Moss drape over her and hide her secrets. She make potions to help River People who come to her in the boggy bayous.

Ah, mon Cherie, you know now that Almeda name the baby girl Jeannea’. Sometime Woman of the Swamps come here to see cradle still rocking, and tell story of Mama’ Marie.  See cradle rocking and know she here now.