The rain threw itself upon
the white cotton tents and rolled
off, drops heaved in soil to
a rich mud smothering woodsmoke
from the fires of men in full
wool. Up since 6am reveille,
both blue and grey
drilled in mist and drizzle.

The dirt track became a mud
river, whether horse dung or peach pie
all scents inhaled by this torrent 
of breathing earth. Thunder crash over
fife practice, women in hoop skirts try
to strike light from acrid
lamp oil. Hiding from the battle
between cloud and ground while
the rain mutters on.

     And here, the time for
reenactment. The re-battle
between brothers, the memorial
to the torn heart of liberty:
     bellum, rebellion.
To remember Antietam, Bull Run, Manassas.
The wrestling over America for...

     The war.
The mockery made of storm by men who hid 
from the real thing.

     And now, as
the skies clear, amid
sulfur, gunsmoke, ripening
apples, these other men tramp across
heavy tussocks, falling to fire,
calling out orders
to remind us of what we think
this war was about. At least,

the hoots from grey-jacketed
Ohioans fill the hollers
and Old Glory retreats behind
a barn.

     And though, today the South
     we'll return next year
to watch the cavalry gallop,
to remember the scent of 
trampled mint.