Oh Antietam

The wind, she  blows cold across the hills of Maryland and West Virginia,

Scurrying clouds along their way, from northwest to southeast.

The sun seems like a furtive guest in the sky,

But it’s the clouds who are playing the game.

Antietam is different in March than in August, the last time I was here.

How long ago was it?

The trees are bare this time of year; the corn stalks are laid low; the bean vines are gone.

And yet …

The old Dunker Church still stands, marking the spot of Lee’s defense.

The land still falls away …

to the east, the creek …

to the west, and south, the Potomac …

and rises, after slight dips to the north, to Hagerstown.

The spirits still speak, betraying the secrets of the blood spilled here.

At Burnside Bridge we cross the creek, and take a moment.

We pause, reflect, take pictures.

The creek runs high from last night’s rain.

Just as it ran rich with blood, that September afternoon in 1862.

Twice might be enough; I many never visit you again Antietam.

Still, I carry your message, your pain, your story with me,

Ever onward.

We are here for a purpose.  God I hope so.

Joe Girard © 2013

[1] Essay, America’s Bloodiest Day, Girard