Tennessee, 2004 by Eric Forsbergh

…..I’m as independent as a hog on ice, and
if they don’t let me alone they will be sorry for it.

………………..Journal of Private Sarah Wakeman

A Spring plowing incident when something gleams.

Oblivion unearthed, a brass buckle bears US.
The tractor falls quiet. Only insects hiss.

A shovel scrapes a bone. Then two.

The coroner assembles all the requisites.
From the shallow grave, dirt is troweled away.
A small man, maybe a drummer boy.

A skeleton, alone, hands composed.

Forensics is surprised to find a woman,
pelvis telling much. No birth but death.
No winding blanket left. No Psalm repeated
even by the oak and hickory.
No lungs, but a ribcage full of dirt
and one mini ball. With dental instruments
they scoop the silt-filled sockets,
brush the teeth.

Did a letter home ever make it
to an unknown regimental mail pouch?

Old script, like scripture, accounts all manner why.
Whys descend like starlings to a stubble field, but
the heart draws up its own battle maps.

Marching through the fields, woods and camps,
hearing cicadas cascade their song,
did it occur to her, that,
buried years on end,
they rise again like unto Gabriel?

old bone set atop small stone tower
Bone Marker by Alan Levine. CC license.

Eric Forsbergh
Eric Forsbergh’s poetry has appeared in JAMA, Artemis, Streetlight, Zeotrope, The Journal of Neurology, The Sow’s Ear Review, Ponder Review, and other venues. Pushcart-nominated by The Northern Virginia Review, he has won the Edgar Allen Poe Memorial prize twice from the Poetry Society of Virginia. He is a Vietnam veteran, a retired dentist, and is currently volunteering as a vaccinator against COVID for the Loudoun County Department of Public Health.

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