Death of a Climber
High sudden slab his staying fingers curled
Shears off, dumb disbelief, the backwards flail
Caught tumbling arced descent, from woe dream furled
He sprints the wind, sky silhouetted sail
To see all the light that's left in the world,
A remnant, crumpled corpse that cannot scale
World wrinkling mountains more he loved with awe
And fear, which never to have climbed were death.
We live to die. We die to live. Crows caw
His dirge, sparrows tidy his bier. His breath
New lofted in the peak sped winds as raw
As grief flies on above, our hearts beneath.
Even as he nursed his mother's breast
He drew his own destruction from her midst.
Lincoln Visits the Wounded
Tall hat removed and still, he bent
To enter the wound dressers' tent
And sit beside the gauze-swathed lad.
The president with heart unbade:
This boy, so grievous maimed, so like my son
In frame and years and eye that it could be
By order of his father this harm done
To him, I comfort my complicity.
O doubled double price we shortly pay
For such a long crime to our creature kith.
Has not our wickedness a judgment day
When all owing is fully paid forthwith?
Is there within the vastness of his wound
The measure of his guilt, so few his years
It seems he's had not time to have repugned
His native righteousness to earn such scars?
So should this blood be mine, and mine the gore,
The target of a thousand cannoneers
Uncovered and unarmed, for all the war
As punishment laid on one man, o tears,
O God, how can I ever wield my pen
That sends my boys to such a fate again?
And yet before the day was done,
Back at his desk in Washington,
A call for volunteers he signed
As though of an ambitious mind;
For such as done in duty's name
Buys great honor with great shame.
© Essem Hamel
Loch Raven Review Winter 2005 Vol. I, No. 2
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