For four days in April no voice
quavered in the parlor as the generals
took stock. Papers were involved,
as always, logistics: where to deposit
arms and whether the quartermaster
would stand at attention or humbly
slouch; how to pack the private
baggage, in oak or cherry or simple
sacks; whether cavalry, having escaped
the final action, were invisible; and
whether canons beyond the range
of hearing were to have their bores
plugged with tar. Only providence
would be reasoned culpable for tragic
contours of strategic hills, for ruinous
junctions of forest roads. Though burnt
cities burned a little more, and nothing
with natural colors yet grew in ground
earmarked for contemplation, maps
were blamed for the amputations,
for the soiled knees of widowhood,
for the malnutrition of trampled fields.
It was the line drawn through Delmarva
between one narcissist and another.