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An Anthology of Poetry about Being Young and Growing Up
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Ree Young

(Bentonville, N. C. March 19-21, 1865) Across late-frosted fields, shells toss dirt, pines and flesh high in air sliced by grape shot and canister. For me, war's done, blown away from toes to thigh. Now the other leg's black and some Reb surgeon cleans his bonesaw in my blood. Yet all I see is Emma's soft arms cradling our son, showing off his thatch of auburn hair just like mine. "You damn Yanks've won," spit the gory men who trundle out the bodies, toss severed parts on heaps outside the door. I don't think I'm even here because I smell warm, clean hay as I toss it high on the wagon, feel the sweet, private ache of blistered hands when day's done. Emma's song floats through the window. Supper shared in heavy dusk, then up to our bed where we can hear the rumble of distant summer storms. Goldsboro's taken! How far that is from home don't matter. I'm as near now as I'll ever be. I wonder if, before I left, I gave Emma the little girl she wanted, the one she said should have her yellow hair and what she called my sweet-formed lips. Too late for dreams. Which flag I fought beneath won't save me. When the battle's done, all uniforms are red.

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