Susanne and I just returned from a cruise and one of our stops was Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is a beautiful city which still retains some of the flavor of the antebellum era.
We often think of the Civil War as ancient history. It was a period that defined us as a nation but also marked the loss of so many of our citizens in a brutal conflict.
It does not seem so far away to me, however, when I walk the battlefields and visit cities like Charleston. There is only one degree of separation between me and that war. My great grandmother was a small child in 1865 and occasionally spoke to me about what she remembered of the soldiers returning home, and the impact it had on her life in a small Maine village.
The war drained the economies of both rural and city areas in the north and south. It chewed up young men like cordwood in a bonfire, and left families and farms unable to function.
She talked to me of watching young men, now old, returning from the battles .
Homecoming-1865 is a new poem I have written about her recollection of one of those incidents. The event still resonates with me 150 years after the fact, and I dare say there is probably no degree of separation from the emotional journeys that are traveled today by many of the soldiers we send to war.
Glenn K. Currie
She stood barefoot in the dirt road
Watching a blue scarecrow approach.
The straw was missing from one arm,
And his bearded face framed eyes
Of anthracite that burned the light:
Leaving it in ashes.
Dust devils swirled around his legs,
Trying to swallow him, but their assaults
Fell beneath his plodding steps.
He passed the little girl without a word,
Disappearing slowly over the hill,
One of many ghosts, dead and alive.
Her mother said the young men
Were returning from the war.
They would help bring in the harvest.
When the child asked if this would be
A celebration, she replied,
“Perhaps the end of mourning.”
Copyright 2015 Glenn K. Currie