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Sarracino, Carmine, 1944- / The heart of war
(2004)

The old soldiers,   pp. 37-39


Page 38


At Shiloh, Antietam, Fredericksburg, for love
of these comrades they laid down their lives.
To the old soldiers in rockers by the fire
a face did sometimes luminesce-
ghastly, eyes rolling-Dear God!
-Oh Robert! Oh No!-
And someone, niece or daughter, did ask
"What's wrong?
Why do you stare at your hands so?"
And the old soldiers did not respond,
could not turn palms out and say
"See! Robert... I held his head.... "
No. They let their hands drop,
and shook their heads. Hiding in the abatis
of old age, the old soldiers.
On Memorial Day in uniform again,
or Sunday best, up Main Street they marched.
Displaying medals. Using canes. Their step
stiff, strained. Old age muddying every road.
2.
July 3, 1913
Gettysburg Battlefield
Cemetery Ridge
The old soldiers once boys here
reenacted Pickett's Charge
one final time.
They looked across at each other,
rheumy eyes squinting in the sun.
38


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