Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Petersburg Dawn

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Petersburg Dawn

Article excerpt

THE PETERSBURG DAWN Second before the explosion, crickets were chewing the thirsty air with their legs,

thousands of them together; the air screamed. Silence. A spark

could've touched the grass off.

He was thinking of mother's forehead, furrowing slightly

as the bullet buried itself with a thud in the temple of chestnut, his childhood horse.

He must have believed the crickets

would put even them to sleep, four gauzy cottenfields away:

against a leaning ash-tree, half-cocked over his gun, he fell asleep.

Seconds before the tunnelled earth flashed below him,

seconds before the sun broke its chains,

he was back in the old barn again, stretched out in the hammock,

each crumbled tobacco mote drifting, suddenly alive in that pigeon smothered loft.

A moth lit on his shoulder.

Exploded into his ear, and father jerked him up by the wrist

think of family Bible leather, cracked, unkindhe woke alone,

"Isaac, Isaac," the sweaty leaves burst into ash

where they found his pap's voice. …

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