For F James Hartnell
I saw a place that lived and died—
Where crows flew in the same constellation
As years before, and mothers
Collected mechanical memories
Fastened to rings and scarves,
While wives read letters and cursed their Gods.
Daughters and sons fixed buttons to holes,
And dogs reminisced on obedient scents—
Searching a final command
Amongst scattered stone cold masters.
Projected in my mind, the tactile
Rock and sweat, the muddy earth,
Mopped grass tufts and raked coal scuppers
Leaning two sides instead of four,
And a shaken tower facade
Shaping the broken landscape.
The tracks ended abruptly,
They fell in a swirl of weapons and fists,
Of boots and metal and markers.
Steamy rusted blood had waft its last
Across soggy open pitch
Where cemeteries claimed their place
Rising from the mire, plotted
Upon the wake of will and weapon.
Last April they washed them clean,
Hauling away men’s stones.
I watched the signs of fortification
Stir across the space with attrition,
Precision and blind religious faith—
Ten more feet by November
And every year is antebellum,
This place filled with holes
And roads piled high with bones
And ancient standards desecrated—
Time does not heal these.
I saw the murder flying through the pasty sky,
Felt the icy clay in my fists go numb,
And cold gauzy darkness overcome.
On my fixed horizon loomed Alcazar,
Built by Tantilian soldiers.
Three quarters is not enough
To save men’s souls,
Yet two more seasons at least were needed
To groom the boys as men.