The hopes of the Confederacy rested on the shoulders of the generals who chose to send their soldiers across the fields in “Pickett’s Charge” (In the Cat’s Eye, 2009). For this battle in particular, the soldiers became the Confederacy, but each soldier carried a more personal burden. He could see and smell and taste death waiting for him. He started across that piece of ground because that’s what soldiers do, and he died without knowing the larger meaning of his death.
In the wall of silence created by the terrible sounds of battle, the generals finally heard the ghosts of these soldiers speak of the nightmare they had encountered. And they had no answers to the questions that were asked.
For the Confederacy, it became a fog-shrouded place where plantation pillars turned to sand: the remnants carried away on scattered winds that finally came to rest at Appomattox.
Glenn K. Currie
There was a hollow spot
In the center of my chest.
Maybe where the ball would hit.
My throat was filled
With the taste of black powder.
Smoke was riding a gentle breeze,
Floating over us like angel dust.
We moved forward because everyone did,
Shadows in the sunshine
Waiting to fly away.
Soldiers fell in slow motion,
Screams lost in the wall of sound
That was our only shelter.
The field was forever,
A nightmare we could never cross.
They kept firing,
Even when we turned back.
Death whined in the ears
Of those who had the good fortune
To trip over the dead.
I turned to sand
As I lay there.
In the evening
I blew away in the wind,
Coming to rest
In a grave in Vitginia.