Myrtle Hill

— Barbara Saxton

Yank and Confederate side
by side. No strife six feet under
Area Four’s common ground, tucked below
the fancier statues and stones that cover
that era’s orators and generals, their visages
captured mid-phrase, buttocks saddle-cemented
on freeze-frame tall steeds.

While an amazon angel tilts
smiling face skyward, her much shorter sister
casts pitying looks down more
common markers grown over with lichen, sunken
into parched grass and red dirt. I read
one inscription out loud:

Chas B Norton, born Dec 3 1834
Killed Manassas July 21 1861

This helps me assign real faces
and voice to all that ghost chatter
attending my slow march
down this hot hill of death.

Nearing street level, I pause
by the dim coolness of a locked mausoleum,
where the name of a child who lived
less than one year is inscribed
on a stone drawer large enough to fit five
adult corpses. Might she have preferred
to rest nearby Unknown C.S.A., in a region
where hatred was banished for good?

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