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CORNWALLIS AT YORKTOWN
October 19, 2004
 
We drove in the car, a long drive with kids:
The surrender of an occupying army, bested by
men who knew their own forests and rivers,
enacted by their descendants,
and the descendants of those who came later
to the land of the free.

Brother David loved George Washington, loved him
like a favorite baseball player,
and he was eight today, and so we drove to Yorktown:
the day his hero had received a stack of rifles
taller than a man:
October nineteenth, the day
Cornwallis surrendered.

Salutes, ritual gunfire, stripped of all its terror.
The steady beat of drums, "The World Turn'd Upside Down,"
A little boy in very heaven, seeing
real redcoats, real colonists, in the real place
they once had really marched, real,
real enough to last him
his whole life.

Our father drove the car.
We never even asked ourselves or him
how it felt to bring us there.
He had learned it differently in school:
this American Rebellion, learned us loyal a century,
safe within a king's protection. Then, stronger,
richer, and more numerous,seizing the bit
in our own teeth.

Our father's hands, gnarled in middle age,
rested on the steering wheel, and he hummed a song.
This was his home now,
these Americans his children. This little boy
who wore his love of country
like epaulets.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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