The Battle At
Little Bull Run
My family laughs before the fire
Serves distress from the carcass
Of smoked duck Mandarin sauce.
They dissolve all wounds in demitasse
And leaded decanters of Southern Comfort
Served neat, with brandied berries.
My family eats love for dessert
Topped with nutmeats and cherries.
When asked, they smile out of the past
And crush the small rebellions we bring
From school: crayon drawings of skulls,
Paper dolls with scrofula, dead pups.
My family sleeps on love like a drug:
At night they hear the wind through
The pikestaffs, songs of damned boys
Who lost their lives on the fields
In early morning,
Before the angels' great stone fire,
They wipe away our tears, roast us
Over hot coals. Our joy leaks
Down our cheeks like fat, hissing
And spattering on the coals.© 1954, T. F. Bierly