Thinking of Robert Coles at Harpers Ferry
by David Joseph


The deep hills corner toward the intersection
of two plank rivers and three state lines.
The armory is vacant, save for the cobblestone
walls, stacked like bodies felled in John Brown's raid.
Everything is divided here, the north different
from the south even now, the mountains reared back.
Only wind can seal the icy, autumn corridors,
bending the shrill and leafless backwards into winter.
Time will turn the skies. Waters will rise upwards,
trees disappearing again, only to reinvent themselves
as barges of silken bark, floating down the Potomac
like the majestic, slender swans of Rilke or Yeats
slipping into anonymity like the voice of a bard
heard only one time before the floods arrived.
In the lean distance, the sound of a tugboat
sings through the valley. Storer College is gone.
Overhead, four hawks patrol the shipyard skies.
It is November. Our country is still young.






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