On Great Fields

While it’s definitely not as explicit as “A Precept in the Flesh,” which I wrote two-and-a-half years earlier, this poem is also an attempt to deal with my trauma related to my parents having had my genitals mutilated.

The first line of the poem comes from a speech Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain gave when dedicating the monument to his old unit, the 20th Maine, on Little Round Top at Gettysburg.

“On Great Fields”
5 August 2017 in Washington, District of Columbia

On great fields, something stays:
not just on fields, but everywhere.
The shadows of the past remain
as deathless scars upon my body.

Even on—especially on—
that first, formative scar
that I remember no more than
cannon echoing from the Blue Ridge.

That moment when they took away
a tender, sacred piece of my self,
they took my body from my self
and left a bleeding gap between us.

And time and life won’t heal the scars
any more than lowering the colors
and letting the armies pass away
could free a nation from its past.