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Gettysburg: 1863

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A wave of gray crashes
against a beleaguered shore of blue— 
splashes of crimson,
the sun fiercely yellow,
the grass losing its green.

 

The crisp echoes of a cannon,
the violent crash,
the sharp cries.
Arms and legs and souls.
Bandages cannot heal these wounds.

 

One lone sharpshooter,
uniform caked with mud
and sweat
and blood.
One. Nicks the branch of a tree.
Two. Burrows in the soft earth.
Three.

 

A muffled grunt,
the bullet punctures, tears, shatters,
lodges in his heart.
A cough and sputter,
then he crumples to the ground.

 

How many days? How many bullets? How many dead?

 

A somber crowd treads
over the soggy ground—
the mountains less purple,
the grain less amber.

 

The gentle drumbeat of rain,
the stifled mourning,
the silent prayers.
Fathers and brothers and sons.
Tears cannot bring them back.

 

One lone figure,
top hat brimmed with dew
and bravery
and freedom.

 

The years are over. The ammunition is spent. The graves are dug.

 

A nation endures.




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