I thought I’d share a poem that will be featured in my new book, The Journals of Lt. Kendal Everly: Poems of the American Civil War. Lost in a murderous shroud of war and hate, Everly kills an enemy, a young Confederate solider.
Silken Filaments of Salvation
August 4, 1861 – Entry IV
His neck was thin. My fingers
slid around it as they might caress
your neck, Elizabeth. Yet, it was slicked
with blood so it felt as if I tightened
my grip around a fish. Hunched over
like Notre Dame’s bell ringer, I pulled
his head closer to mine. He might
have thought I meant to kiss him.
My heart, my mind, both bubbled
with some foul Satanic froth,
both marvelled at the deepening color
of his face, a deep purple, a fine wine.
I gulped the dying gasps of this boy
as if his death would envelop me
with the silken filaments of salvation.
My fingers tightened. His neck grew
thinner, a wet string. His mouth,
like a gate, opened, dark and wide,
attempting to conjure breath. His limbs
flailed attempting to embrace the air.
His eyes, opened wide like globes.
Damn you, I screamed. DAMN YOU.
And then, there was death. He was still
And I was lost. Dear God, I am lost.