Revolution (1764-1783)

1. Walrath_Revolution

Holly Lyn Walrath


The air is silent in the fields,
no longer charged,
no longer clattering
with the voices of men and cannons,
nor the far-off beat of the drummer boy.
The sunlight is buried behind the hills
touching them with a final purple hue.
Its warmth does not reach the valley.
Heavy fog merges with the smoke,
mingles with the tang of death.
Is it damp, or is it blood?

Last fall my father gave me my first gun.
We hunted quail. I remember clutching
the cold steel, my fingers lingering
on the trigger. That day
was wet too, and silent.
I trembled in the shadows
and when the flood of birds broke
the canopy I shot blindly
and too early.

My father wrapped the small black body
of a raven in a white handkerchief.
They are sacred animals, he said.
Then we lay on our backs in the field
and waited, and a heavy rain fell.
He did not send me to war.

My back and uniform are slick with mud.
I feel it slipping down my collar.
I cannot move.
Fear drowns me,
merging my body
with the sludge of battle.
I look up at the sky.
Rain begins to fall.

In that moment
I stared into sky
on my back
in a ditch I dug,
the sheltered body
of the dead raven,
its wings a shroud,
takes flight into
memory of a girl
with gunshot hair.

Her touch, her death,
haunt me with a tingling fire
and I panic because I do not know her.

Just the pain of the night raven
and the way I loved her
is more terrible, more torrential,
more acute, than the feeling
below the knee, where I’m certain
my legs are gone.

I have lived before,
I whisper to the rain
to the fields
to the sea of dead men.


Holly Lyn Walrath is a freelance editor and the Associate Director of Writespace, a literary center in Houston, Texas. Her poetry and fiction has appeared in venues of multiple genres, including Literary Orphans, Silver Blade Magazine, and Vine Leaves, among others.

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