MOUNT INDEPENDENCE

 

 

We went walking, maybe on your bones;
the keepers of the relics will not tell.

July:  two weeks for the news to come
and you named the place:
your future hope declared.

Foundations, breastworks of gray stone,
the star-shaped fort.
Oval spring at the cliff base, cold green water.

Autumn:  sticky mud, limestone,
stumps and long yellow sedges.
Wind across bare ground.

Winter: no shoes.
Smallpox, no cure.
Holding down the fort,

building a bridge across the frozen lake–
twenty-one cribs of stone–
to Ticonderoga across the narrows

where in summer again–the glorious Fourth–
your comrades woke to see British cannon on Sugar Hill,
their futility.

Flight to Hubbardton, Bennington.
Delay the nail that won the war,
or so we like to think.

We mark the broken walls,
weeds and sedges overgrown,
limestone forest returned.

We went walking on your bones;
no marker  but the curving cedar arms,
no blessing but the falling snow.

2005

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