Dust upon the mantle, deep,
as tones of aching somber hold
the lengthened shadows across the room
to rend the wooden floor to gold.
So worn by every footstep lain
two hundred years could keep,
that grain and pitch and nail combine
in melding, fast asleep.
The air in musk of history
traps my thoughts in what I dream,
and there a conjured memory begs
from Civil War, a scene…
where just beyond the garden gate,
men in grey meet men in blue,
on horseback speak in earnest terms,
then off to leave just standing, two.
I hear a somber canon –
I smell the lilacs full in bloom –
I feel the rose of a lover’s blush,
then find me quiet, here in this room.
The window sash is splintered,
through the frame, the garden gone.
The picket fence in broken angles
casts pickup sticks in shadows long.
I move toward the porch to feel
the southern summer’s setting hush,
and o’er the field before me
sense the rolling guns and troops in rush.
The odor is of powder –
The sounds are pain and desperate cries –
I feel the courage and the anguish
that counted gone so many lives.
A blue jay calls my balance back
to lonely porch and battlefield
where ne’er a plow has broken soil
since when its fate by blood was sealed.
Cicadas welcome home the dusk
to sweetly calm the souls here lain,
and I a nod of hope for them,
and one long tear pulled from the pain,
now etched into my fabric –
now carved in stone upon my soul –
that I recall their history,
their sacrifice, their echo to a union whole.