The Long Valley

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
Gettysburg Battlefield, 3rd Day

Submitted: December 26, 2007

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Submitted: December 26, 2007

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The Long Valley


One great sweeping valley
hemmed by ridgelines - cosseting a village -
with crossroads,
fences,
wheat fields
and orchards dissecting.

One great sanguinary valley,
bathed in Pennsylvania’s summer swelter,
the grass greased in rivulets of life,
oozing -
echoing to the silence of the dead,
and the whimpers of the nearly so.

One great pulsing valley.
Pulsing with boots and bare feet
straining against the madding wind.
Pulsing to the kettledrum barrage,
and to the raging fearful heart
that stands its ground with friends,
for fear of shame and ridicule.
Pulsing with the sound
of sharp sucked breath at bullet strike,
as bone breaks, muscles tear,
and life ebbs away.

One great summer-ripened valley -
bitter fruit to harvest in abundance –
grapes of wrath trampled here.
Great swathes of
scything men,
rank on rank
they glean the fields.
And sun-bleached hats,
like grey grain,
fall to the ground -
and maggots feast.

One great decisive valley,
tumult and cry,
no restraining the rush
to the wall.
Multitudes, multitudes
in the valley of decision,
till the thing is decided,
and the dead are still and
the wounded whimper.
And those that can
shout
in memoriam to their dead -
in another valley,
at another wall:
“Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!” They cry,
as broken men
of a broken cause
turn their backs
and simply walk away.

One great mythic valley
hemmed by ridgelines –
cosseting the rotting dead
in new-dug graves.

And fifty years on
old men,
tottering survivors,
will grapple one last time –
with memories,
then open their arms to enemies,
and pour out tears
where crossroads,
fences,
wheat fields
and orchards
dissected their lives.


by James Gagiikwe © 2007


© Copyright 2017 James Gagiikwe. All rights reserved.

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