Saturday, June 25, 2016

The 5th of July - a poem

The 5th of July

On the day I was born,
my mom stood on the battlefield.
Not a woman for dramatic entrances,
and even though her doctor warned,
she went, she didn’t want to miss the tour.
She went to hear the old historian,
to stand amongst the crowd in the morning dew,
to stand in the blue and gray dawn,
feet hurting, waiting expectantly.

I listened as my mom retold,
in the voice of the woman guide,
words that carried us past the span of the living,
how we came to stand upon that field,
words that summoned the watch-fires
of a hundred circling camps.
In the mist, we felt the eyes of soldiers watching,
eyes that told of fateful lightning and swift sword.
Hearkening the sounds of battle to our ears,
I was there as the historian spoke.

No longer a field, but the place of a battle.
No longer a field, but the place of rest.
For some, all ended here.
No longer a field, but the place of victory
and defeat, paid the same, with lives and blood.
No longer a field, but now a place.
The historian spoke, as she pointed to the high ground,
“See the stones and granite markers on that crest.”
Resting stones and markers we saw on the hilltop,
as if in marching columns, they passed from our sight.
Unspoken, unsaid, but not unseen,
known at least by some,
these stones pave the road of freedom.

No longer a field, but a place to walk
in peace, from this day forward.
No longer a field, but a place to stand,
a place to stand and see one other,
a place to know,
to know we are brother and sister to one another,
brother and sister to those who rest on this field,
brother and sister bound by those who have gone before.

They fought on the 4th.
On that day, some laid down their task.
Their work brought us here.
Do we know
we were summoned by their call?
We stand on their field.
It’s the 5th of July.
They brought us this far, but could go no further.
The unfinished work is ours,
their unspoken call is heard.

Today is the 5th of July,
the day we were born.

Mark Bohrer
June 2016, North Andover Mass.