The Battle of Fredericksburg has been described as one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. I had the opportunity to be in the area during the 150th anniversary of the battle. It was surreal to see the streets lined with soldiers decked out in Civil War gear, to hear the thunder of cannon fire, and to smell the smoke which lay in a thick blanket over the city. There is always a part of me, perhaps the actor part, that is always ready to suspend disbelief and believe in a moment, and in that moment I felt a panic that must have become all too familiar to the families who lived through this terrifying time.
The images I witnessed that week stayed with me. One morning they roused me especially early and inspired the following poem.
In the weakest light of morning,
I awoke to find a warning
Painted on a bloody sky
As if a silent battle had gone awry
The branches of the leafless trees,
Black and frozen, caught my eye
As they sat like broken veins
Slowly bleeding in the sky
The silence spoke in echoes
My clock pulsed out the time
And every stroke I heard
Substituted steady heartbeats for unspoken words
The light began to grow into a purple grey,
Erasing all the images of a long forgotten day.
And I returned to slumber and all that’s held in dreams,
The memories of ghosts fading, like the echoes of their screams
Written December 2012