by Neal Bowers
My father was only two in 1915
when he sat on Walter Denton's lap
and heard the old man dragging in
his heavy chain of breath, each link
stuttering down the back of his throat.
"Floyd," he whispered, saying the baby's name
like a question, "look yere,"
and he placed my father's hand
on a scar the color of moonlight,
a shrapnel wound from the Yankee boats
that shelled Ft. Donelson.
Then both of them began to cry,
there in the ladderback chair
someone had dragged into elm shade,
away from the stifling house,
until a woman came and saved them
from each other, leaving one
to go into the past and disappear,
the other to follow by way of the future.
"Confederates" by Neal Bowers from Out of the South. © Louisiana State University Press, 2007.