shrouding Richmond with low clouds. Under Lee—
bronze blasted clean of verdigris—
summer returns and some have found it
a clear place beyond the storm’s edge
to play and lie warm in the drying grass.
Further down the Avenue, I watch thick drops
tamp and streak the panes of flawed glass.
Beyond, all I see are obscure figures
more certain to change their shape,
lose the face I once recognized,
as one wounded wakes to death or grace.
The front holds, advances if it moves. A file of boys
slogs down the street, barefoot like the young
boys in the mud suck of New Market’s gully
who lost their boots and marched on still
afraid of their own guns—the slap
and slow singe of powder at the cheek—
or the first brigade of Union men who charged
Cold Harbor’s trench and left their bodies
so gored with shot there was nothing left to die;
their first steps fall on land, the next in light.