"I want to write as well as I can but I want to make some money at it. Thank God I'm not a poet."

Elmore Leonard


Editor and publisher of
the Marlboro Review

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Ms. Dudley

Ellen Dudley

State Line

From the plane circling at twenty thousand feet,
the ground is so much green and dust,
and circling, holding, waiting for the storms to clear,
we'd never know what's down there: Maryland, Pennsylvania,
Virginia circumscribed by our lazy O's.
A human construct, state lines, and under them,
meaningless from the air, under that green: bones and dust.
And who down there sees us as a glint against the lightning?
Maybe just right there in 1863 or 61, some boy took a bullet
just above the nipple, opening his back in a huge bloom and he, falling,
backward into the mud of Antietam, or the field at Gettysburg,
the river at Carnifex looked up to see the trees
silver with winter or green like this now.
******************************* And in the retelling,
don't they transmute, these trees, to the familiars of Massachusetts,
Georgia, Tennessee, as if we, the onlookers would have the dead go home?
And in this, the blue hole of sky, our plane,
the safe cocoon, passes in and out of sight, circling
around and around again.