At the Public Market Museum: Charleston, South Carolina

Jane Kenyon

 
A volunteer, a Daughter of the Confederacy,
receives my admission and points the way.
Here are gray jackets with holes in them,
red sashes with individual flourishes,
things soft as flesh. Someone sewed
the gold silk cord onto that gray sleeve
as if embellishments
could keep a man alive.
I have been reading War and Peace,
and so the particulars of combat
are on my mind—the shouts and groans
of men and boys, and the horses' cries
as they fall, astonished at what
has happened to them.
                         Blood on leaves,
blood on grass, on snow; extravagant
beauty of red. Smoke, dust of disturbed
earth; parch and burn.
Who would choose this for himself?
And yet the terrible machinery
waited in place. With psalters
in their breast pockets, and gloves
knitted by their sisters and sweethearts,
the men in gray hurled themselves
out of the trenches, and rushed against
blue. It was what both sides
agreed to do.
 
From Otherwise: New and Selected Poems by Jane Kenyon. Copyright © 1996 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Poems by This Author

Afternoon at MacDowell by Jane Kenyon
On a windy summer day the well-dressed
Alone for a Week by Jane Kenyon
I washed a load of clothes
Briefly It Enters, and Briefly Speaks by Jane Kenyon
I am the blossom pressed in a book,
Christmas Away from Home by Jane Kenyon
Her sickness brought me to Connecticut
Dutch Interiors by Jane Kenyon
Christ has been done to death
Happiness by Jane Kenyon
There’s just no accounting for happiness
Having it Out with Melancholy by Jane Kenyon
When I was born, you waited
Heavy Summer Rain by Jane Kenyon
The grasses in the field have toppled
Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon
Let the light of late afternoon
Man Eating by Jane Kenyon
The man at the table across from mine
Mosaic of the Nativity: Serbia, Winter, 1993 by Jane Kenyon
On the domed ceiling God
Notes from the Other Side by Jane Kenyon
I divested myself of despair
Otherwise by Jane Kenyon
I got out of bed
Portrait of a Figure Near Water by Jane Kenyon
Rebuked, she turned and ran
Private Beach by Jane Kenyon
It is always the dispossessed
Taking Down the Tree by Jane Kenyon
The Suitor by Jane Kenyon
We lie back to back. Curtains
Thinking of Madame Bovary by Jane Kenyon
The first hot April day the granite step
Three Songs at the End of Summer by Jane Kenyon
A second crop of hay lies cut
Twilight: After Haying by Jane Kenyon
Yes, long shadows go out
What Came to Me by Jane Kenyon
I took the last


Further Reading

Poems about Ancestors
Ancestors
by Cesare Pavese
Arabic
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Deer Dancer
by Joy Harjo
How I Got That Name
by Marilyn Chin
How Palestinians Keep Warm
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Ladders
by Elizabeth Alexander
Many Asked Me Not to Forget Them
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Nunaqtigiit
(people related through common possession of territory)

by Joan Kane
On the Gallows Once
by Kofi Awoonor
On this Very Street in Belgrade
by Charles Simic
Passing
by Carl Phillips
Post-Dissertation-Intervention (i.)
by Ronaldo Wilson
Prayer for My Unborn Niece or Nephew
by Ross Gay
Snow
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Teach me I am forgotten by the dead
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart
by Jack Gilbert
The Multitude
by Ellen Hinsey
What I Am
by Terrance Hayes
Pockets
A Sock Is a Pocket for Your Toes [excerpt]
by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon
At the Playground, Singing for Psychiatric Outpatients
by Peter Everwine
Blankets of Bark
by Sherwin Bitsui
Broadway
by Mark Doty
Chaplinesque
by Hart Crane
Go Greyhound
by Bob Hicok
Gospel
by Philip Levine
Inventing Father In Las Vegas
by Lynn Emanuel
Pockets
by Howard Nemerov
Regarding Chainsaws
by Hayden Carruth
The Waltz We Were Born For
by Walt McDonald
Two Countries
by Naomi Shihab Nye