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Owens, Elisabeth, R. (ed.) / Encore: more of parallel press poets
(2006)

Sarracino, Carmine, 1944-
Letter from Shiloh,   pp. 51-52


Page 51

 
Letter from Shiloh 
Camp near Pittsburg Landing, 
Tennessee 
April 11, 1862 
Dearest Jenny, 
I am up to my neck in work. It is slaughter, slaughter. 
I have grown quite callous to death, and now watch 
even friends die with little feeling. When first I entered 
service I recall the wounded of Bull Run lying 
along the road or passing on wagons and litters- 
how my heart did ache for them! Now I find myself 
surrounded by the most horrendous wounds 
and can only command: "Gather the amputations 
and arrange tables, here and here. -What! So many? 
Then clear these stomach-shot, these lung-shot- 
all the hopeless cases-to some quiet place to die." 
Well do I see what happens to my heart. At night 
I open the gutta-percha case with Andrew's photograph 
and Elisha's beside and gaze at those beloved. 
All these boys (I tell myself) are such sons 
of parents somewhere far. Or fathers themselves, 
or brothers. -But grief, when it does arise, 
hesitates and shakes my hand. I am best to the hurt 
surrendered to what I am become, impassive and cold. 
The moon is nearly full. It looks to me 
like some once-dear face I can no longer name. 
A million stars, and every one 
against this heart of mine has turned its back, 
against this heart so dead. -Jenny, I do fear 
I am my own most hopeless case. 
Carmine Sarracino 
51 


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