John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

Low content mode, day 1

I'm out of town this week, visiting my brother and his family out east, so I'm in what Mike Sterling calls Low Content Mode. I've queued six art and poetry posts, one of each for the three states I'll be in during my trip. Enjoy!

Antietam

We all went in a yellow school bus,
on a Tuesday. We sang the whole way up.
We tried to picture the bodies stacked three deep
on either side of that zigzag fence.
We tried to picture 23,000 of anything.
It wasn't that pretty. The dirt smelled like cats.
Nobody knew who the statues were. Where was
Stonewall Jackson? We wanted Stonewall on his horse.
The old cannons were puny. We asked about fireworks.
Our guide said that sometimes, the land still let go
of fragments from the war--a gold button, a bullet,
a tooth migrating to the surface. We searched around.
On the way back to the bus a boy tripped me and I fell--
skidding hard along the ground, gravel lodging
in the skin of my palms. I cried the whole way home.
After a week, the rocks were gone.
My mother said our bodies could digest anything,
but that's a lie. Sometimes, at night, I feel
the battlefield moving inside of me.

Sandra Beasley (born 1980)

From Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature & Fine Arts, Winter 2009/Spring 2010, Vol. 22 Issue 1. Reprinted without permission. Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Beasley. All rights reserved.

Tags: maryland, poet's corner, poetry
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