Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Breathing In, Breathing Out

Journal Entry: Winter quarters on the banks of the Rappahannock River, Virginia; February 23, 1863
Cold and dreary February; ice and cold wind blow.

I remember, years ago, writing that line to start a poem. Those first words are the only part that I remember now; it was in another lifetime as an innocent farm boy waiting for the warming of spring. Now with war, winter is a quiet time, while armies restock, regroup, and wait for more pleasant weather to kill each other. February is still cold along the banks of the Rappahannock, but no longer dreary for me; others gripe and grumble, but I am no longer that lost soul that was once laid low. I am consoled by the sight of my breath in the frozen air; breathing in, breathing out; the same air as the breeze through the bare branches. I am buoyed by the winter whispers around me; the cheerful chatter of the winter wren comforting the mourning dove’s crying call; the river rush singing beneath the shoreline ice; all these voices even more muffled by snow on the hills. Through these voices, I know that this earth, our ancient mother, is not asleep; she has not abandoned her sons and daughters because of our folly. In terms of her time, this weary war is but a blink and will soon be what we call history, and she calls this one moment.

During this past year, I have met more men and women than I even saw in my entire life before this war. I have learned much about America that was not in the books of my cousin’s fine library. Americans are robust stock, mixed from around the world, the strongest men and women that were able to complete the journey from the old worlds. We all make up America; we are not separate; we fight now, but will be a union once more I am sure.

I am still a Confederate courier, but am becoming a messenger with a new message, one that I cannot yet openly share with others. As much as the other troopers despise this war, most are still loyal to THE CAUSE, even if they are not sure what that is. I am equally loyal to Virginia, but there is a loyalty to a greater union; much greater than states or status. This is what I have heard in those whispers; we are all in union; there is no separation.

I am the breath,
the whisper,
of all that came before.
I am the breath,
the promise,
of all those still to come.

1 comment:

  1. I learned that myself these past few years. It is a moment of revelation, one that, I think, determines how you will grow old. Bitter and alone, or comforted by the knowledge that you belong to the collective community called human.
    I am glad he has learned this for himself, now, before it's too late.


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