117: To The Republic

Sky 2

117: To The Republic

To The Republic
by Frank Bidart

I dreamt I saw a caravan of the dead
start out again from Gettysburg.

Close-packed upright in rows on railcar flat-
beds in the sun, they soon will stink.

Victor and vanquished shoved together, dirt
had bleached the blue and gray one color.

Risen again from Gettysburg, as if
the state were shelter crawled to through

blood, risen disconsolate that we
now ruin the great work of time,

they roll in outrage across America.

You betray us is blazoned across each chest.
To each eye as they pass: You betray us.

Assaulted by the impotent dead, I say it’s
their misfortune and none of my own.

I dreamt I saw a caravan of the dead
move on wheels touching rail without sound.

To each eye as they pass: You betray us.

“To The Republic,” from WATCHING THE SPRING FESTIVAL by Frank Bidart. Copyright © 2009 by Frank Bidart. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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