Oct/Nov 2001 Poetry Special Feature

Civil War c. 1911

by Taylor Graham

Art by Bob Dornborg


Civil War c. 1911

A young girl gulps her breath,
the bonfire ignites
all the clutter from an old Virginia
attic, you might as well set off
the roof, flames splattering the sky
to midnight. So much rubbish
accumulates over history, time
to turn to ash.

When it cools back down
the grandfather stoops
and stands back up with a single
gold button in his grip.

The girl remembers finding once
in a corner of the attic, hidden
apart, a cumbersome blue soldier's
winter coat, heavy wool with buttons
of gold, while below,
in the drawing room, Confederate
gray lay folded
in its hazelwood chest, the gray
they didn't burn.

The old man slips the button
in his pocket. In his youth
he would have died
for blue.


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