Saturday, November 20, 2010
Logic is My Lantern
A young soldier’s decapitated head, floating down the rain swollen Potomac River, screaming for water to quench his thirst; I am unsure; no, I am sure it was another hallucination. New moon, no light, not possible; keep saying that; logic is my lantern. No sleep in days; I have no faith in my eyes or ears; I have seen flashes of fire from rifles that are not there, rabbits with riders running into my path; they are not there; chimera, illusions. We have been in the saddle night and day for a week; maybe a few minutes down, but then, back riding again. We eat in the saddle; we try to sleep in the saddle; I am writing in the saddle. We are worn to ruin and have not been dry since leaving Gettysburg a week ago. We are pinned against the Potomac, unable to cross; bridges burned and the rains have made the fords more dangerous than the Federal Army that has us surrounded. Our cavalry must keep riding to warn of attacks. Why the Federals do not push us into the Potomac, I do not know.
We ride, we wait, we watch the darkness around us. New moon nights can whisper like a lover, or scream like a banshee. All depends on the state of mind, and a mind deprived of sleep sees banshees on every tree branch. I stay logical, but my grandmother’s Welsh legends loom large in my learning and rise without rest.
High water floods the fords preventing the pathway home. I have listened to the whispers of nature since Fredericksburg; perhaps the river is now telling me I cannot go home; ever. I cannot think; my eyes are bleary, my horse sways from exhaustion. Illusion; whispers; which is truth; which is tricks. My throat is dry; I cannot quench this thirst, but I will not go down to the river tonight.