He was happy in a Gettysburg field, before he turned 13. That was the year his father’s body launched its own Civil War.
POETRY of the Times
I want to die in Gettysburg, PA
on the soft green flank of Little Round Top
where General Pickett led his charge.
I was happy there one afternoon
before I turned thirteen, the year
my father’s body launched its own Civil War,
trees glowing pumpkin and scarlet,
my mink-coated mother beaming
at her husband in his houndstooth jacket.
We were at peace, ten thousand dead
and thirty thousand wounded
as impossible to imagine as the carnage
my father would brave a few months later,
distant drums stirring the first steps
in my long march to become a doctor,
my battle to save him, a surgeon’s scalpel
trained on his belly like a bayonet.
Dr Berlin is Instructor in Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester. ❒