Gettysburg

Allison Adair Click to read more...

Hi Res Head ShotAllison Adair’s poems appear in Best New Poets 2015, Boston Review, Mississippi Review and Missouri Review.  She is winner of the Fall 2015 Orlando Prize and the 2014 Fineline Poetry Competition.  Adair teaches at Boston College and Grub Street.

Gettysburg

The peacock’s spurs are caught again
in the diamond chickenwire of his low
slanted pen. Nobody bothers anymore
to hammer the sagging barn.

Summer visitors regard the old farm from cars
without chrome, up on the hastily paved path—
if they look at all. There’s so much
else to see, burnished things, and battlefields

all look the same. But it’s here, this land,
where the war’s easy sepia finds an end
and a form: like us, the shallow rust-red soil
blows off for York, for Philadelphia, the coast,

and pasture erodes to bone. A black walnut’s roots
pierce the buried limbs of our grandfathers’ fallen
spruce grove. The caterpillar inches along, lost
in its sad accordion hymn.

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Discussion

One Response to Gettysburg

  1. todda17 says:

    I love this poem. In my own visit to Gettysburg one fall in middle school, I was completely taken aback by the breathtaking beauty of the battlefield — it didn’t seem like a place that could have held such bloodshed. I like the differing perspective that Adair brings to the idea of looking upon a battlefield, completely emptied of its context: more of apathy than of disbelief in this poem’s case, but still resulting in the same effect of alienation. History might seem incredibly far away to us, even if the little signs of life (the caterpillar, “the sagging barn”) we experience near the site of a major national conflict have been happening there for centuries. They’re what bind us together and suggest that even though our ancestors’ lifestyles seem foreign to us based on historical distance alone, there’s probably more to relate to than we might think.

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