Shiloh: ‘the garden, hard and soft, holding me older than the oak trees’ – xians/lions

that Sunken Road still sinks,
as a thousand bloody feet were trudging,
sloshing to the Pond
for something there to drink,
a thirst for death to thee abscond
and all along the cedar fence,
the field before them, smoky fog,
a thousand more gave recompense
howling loud for ‘Mom’ or ‘God,’
and yet the only answer came,
the stench of flesh and gunpowder,
that as the bullets buzzed like bees,
the men could only shout louder
the words of life, that death rattle,
that from the first the last is known,
they held the line like corpses do
retreating there to the unknown
(save those of whom their ghosts remain
to reconnoiter by the Pond,
their everlasting search in vain,
for peace or sacred life beyond),
but now and though the road still sinks,
a dozen generations on,
we walk it slow in retrospect
that we are them as we trudge on.

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