I am a former paratrooper, Gulf War veteran, and a Daily Press Poet Laureate. My first poetry collection, The Human Touch, focused on relationships that we form with family and communities while my second collection, Half a Man, focused on war. (Both are available at http://www.billglose.com/purchase.htm.) My third collection, Personal Geography is a mixture of both. More information at www.BillGlose.com.
Washington Crossing the Delaware
based on the painting by Emanuel Leutze
A row of boats crosses icy water on a frigid
Christmas morning. Huddled in each, men
clutch muskets, use poles to push ahead
or shove aside floes that block their way.
Faceless forms blend into mass of urgent
struggle, but clarity has found one boat
in the foreground, its nameless crew
bent to tasks, focused expressions
contrasting the tumult around them.
General Washington stands at center,
one foot propped on a cross plank, glint
of saber at his waist, eyes on horizon
like a prophet gifted with a vision
of the future. Behind him, James Monroe
hugs the Stars and Stripes. Far shore
is hidden by fog that hangs like gloom
of oppression. In river’s midst,
rays of light streak through dark sky,
dawning of a new day not far behind.
When I stand on Tidewater’s marshy shore,
my back turned to the modern world,
it’s easy to pretend I am the first man
to set foot in this space. Wind sighs
through sawgrass, carries the scent of salt
and pine. Clouds tumble overhead,
bits of fluff that frolic through
an amber sky. Just before the sun
tucks tree-lined shore, day’s last light
turns rippling water into liquid gold
and streaks the sky with colors
I didn’t know existed.
I wonder if this is how John Smith felt
gazing across Chesapeake Bay for
the first time, standing on a spot
just like this. If he could cast ahead
400 years and witness where
the tireless march of civilization
would lead, would he still yearn
to tame the wilderness,
to colonize and conquer?
Or would he linger but one day
to marvel at the endless green
before returning aship, setting sail
to leave this land unspoiled?
©2016 Bill Glose
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