Off Tour South of Sharpsburg

I spoke. My words
stumbled on the uneven ground.

They thudded into the grassy dirt
dinged their smooth lines and broke a few serifs.

Just below the surface
a lost and forgotten bronze plaque slept.

Carolina wrens broadcast its discovery.
Curiosity instituted mission creep.

My walk stalled.
I cleared sleep from the plaque’s I’s.

Most of the letters were gone.
My fallen words began to refill the bronze surface.

But I did not recognize speaking them.
So they were now unknown to me.

They noted a bitter end.
They named a stranger from far away.

To the north stood the inverted cannon
where Isaac Peace Rodman fell.

Though I was closer to Lawrence O’Brien Branch
and where his brigade fought.

When I reread the plaque
a drawl grabbed my tongue and mouth.

Thirty-seven is a prime number
which I always believed brought luck.

But not that long ago September
for the Gaston Blues.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

postscript

The Gaston Blues were company H of the 37th North Carolina Infantry, part of Lawrence O’Brien Branch’s brigade.

The town of Sharpsburg, MD is surrounded on three sides by the Antietam National Battlefield. I have spent over 100 days exploring that battlefield.

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