stranger in the land


The old words climb from the well of time
like a Norway spruce,
aquamarine – set loose
like fiery needles from the flame

of Psyche-Liberty (breaching
Columbia, rose-grey
dauphin).  Light spray
from Ocean’s breathing-hole – the sting

of Cuban salt.  Strange emissary,
stranger in the land,
your phantom clock-hand
gravitates toward Harper’s Ferry –

ticks back, between slate gray
clouds, the frozen sword
over its chessboard hoard
(gold poison-cup, primed to betray

the Union).  Carlsen’s hesitation
in hamlet-limping lines
of Sabbath silence... Martin’s
magnanimous memory... the unknown

veteran, shrouding a still-life
Lincoln penny (pinned
atop his heart).  Sound
heard in Ramah... Rachel’s life-

saver, bobbing Caribbean blues.
Queequeg on welded keys
surfacing velocities
Atlantis-radiant... bright jasper hues.


                          "Reminiscences of 1865", by John F. Peto (Minneapolis Institute of Art)

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