Joseph Sherrick Farm, outside Sharpsburg, MD. Site of the Antietam Civil War Battle
Upon whitewashed porch I pause,
unwilling to flee, unable to stay,
gaze upon our fields of wheat, flax and corn;
the only truth I understand...
Floorboards vibrate with distant drums;
death's march surely heading our way.
Hold your letter loosely, wishing
instead I held your hand.
Your namesake remains, he is my rock,
but dear, our Johnny’s run off
wearing treacherous Union blue!
My heart bleeds, shattered in two.
The time is ripe for justice and truth
The sound of drums carries my heart and my want
If God desires me to be beholden to righteousness
Then I raise my arms in defense of my land, my ancestors
Glory be to God
My son, I have left you with the burden of a lifetime
Yet you accept even when the temptation of battle sings
I will owe you my love and my land as compensation
For honoring our home and our roots as cause.... dear boy
Glory be to God
My precious girl, your eyes carry me forward and up
To guard a way of life given freely by the hand of fate
Too young to understand these words or my pursuit
But one day you will read these words and rejoice in our way
A tattered letter, three months old, I caress,
your hand still bold; it gives me hope.
My heart cries out for news of our sweet boy!
Weary, weary, I sit. Imagine
beneath my feet, cellar shelves stocked
with your favorite: butter; apple, peach
and plum, crocks of preserves, sugar,
flour, a winter’s worth of huckleberry stew.
But it’s gone! We evacuated hastily, in terror
I grabbed the children, your pocket watch!
Naught remains, but the clothes upon our backs.
“Be not of the World” 'taint so hard no more.
I have lost a score of comrades, much sorrow
I can only believe that God has a place for them
At the head of his table, a great feast in truth’s honor
My eyes have witnessed the blood of the battle... they are weary
Keep the faith my friends, my loves
My son, word of your steadfast authority has reached my ears
Keep your eyes on strangers my boy and trust no one
If death comes knocking swallow the key and be sure
That I am doing my best to stem the tide
Keep the faith my friends, my loves
My precious girl, growing undeterred on the door step of hell
I barely had the chance to calm your cries, a man’s real duty
But if God wills, I will return and coddle you ten fold
And patch the cuts and bruises of war and you will grow
Our precious Mary greets rows of rag tag boys
that pass our way. One confessed “I may
now find peace as Heaven’s surely as fine
as your blue eyes”. He reminded me of you.
Oh sweetest husband, come back, matters not
if you aren’t whole. Just forever hold me.
I’m hungry, cold, lonely... Glories price to steep to bear;
Sweet Jesus! Our Johnny’s dead! Buried who knows where.
I’m too drained to cry, too tired to comfort little Jacob,
Will, baby Lisbeth. Darling, desert this God forsaken cause!
Together we can rally; rebuild this house, our life;
but what kind of crops will grow, fertilized with blood soaked misery?
My faith in God’s plans is tested daily, I question
My desire to return whole has passed with the spirits
One hundred thousand men before me, I fear its fate
Your letters and soft skin mask mud, blood and hunger
Goodbye dear ones, keep the faith
My son, the time has come to wrap neat the past
Take only what is dear and move on with protective hands
Place them on the heads of the women and cry
For the tides have turned and God’s will favors others thinking
Goodbye dear ones, keep the faith
My precious girl, I hope you have your mother’s eyes
And keen sense of what makes this world turn... beautifully
Remember me as the ghost of perseverance and love
Of an idea whose time has run its ill conceived course
by Margaret Bednar (Art Happens 365) and Corey Rowley (Herotomost)
How fun was this!? Corey Rowley, you made this collaboration process a pure joy, and not because you agreed 100% with what I wanted to do (although that does make things go quite smoothly when working with me) but because of your talent, encouragement, and eagerness.
Thank you, Kerry, for such a fun experience and such a wonderfully tended garden, and we hope everyone enjoys this collaboration written in celebration of the Imaginary Garden with Real Toad's one year anniversary.
Wow! I am quite moved from this exchange poem to poem, letter to letter, showing how love is felt even when it passes in the mail, even when all else changes in the tide of war and belief. Beautifully done, with the subtle misses and changes of truth. You two sure proclaim collaboration!
I love the back and forth love letters between you two... great idea and lovely presentation!!
Oh, my!!!! I'm so impressed by the creative-response to this call for collaborative effort!!
Margaret and Corey!! You really created such a gut-wrenching and intriguing presentation. The language you both use and the scene that you set is very emotive and believable!!
Much enjoyed, thank you!! :)'s
Impressively impressive and beautifully beautiful, Corey and Margaret!!! You made this so very personal in the sweep and panorama of wartime. So very real. An absolutely wonderful collaboration.
This is just superb! What a brilliant idea to use the letters back and forth, the tale unfolds in all its tragic glory. I didn't want it to end.
Margaret, your pictures are a stunning accompaniment to the post. I hope you don't mind that I resized them because our space is a little confined.
This is something to come back to for further reading.
So many lines to touch the heart:
If death comes knocking swallow the key... is so powerful, and the moment the wife cries to her husband to desert... that caught me.
My goodness, this was as good as reading a book or watching a movie about the Civil War - it would make a terrific novel. What a creative and wonderful idea, executed to perfection. I didnt want it to end, either. It is very gripping, very moving, very real. Thank you both for your wonderful contribution.
Kerry, what wonders you have wrought with this site. Thanks for your dedication and wonderful management. This site is an absolute gift of inspiration, support and encouragement to writers.
These collaborations are absolutely wonderful.
Kids, send warm thoughts and prayers Susie's way - she has been very ill, and still is suffering quite a bit. Pneumonia in both lungs, she is very weak and in pain and the docs may send her to an infectious diseases specialist. I'm worried.
I want to thank Margatret for working with me....and I love how it turned out, reading like letters were passing becasue of the length of time it would take them to be delivered if they reached at all. If the Civil War was today, we could just call on our celly's...lol. Had a great time doing this and thanks to everyone who has commented thus far. You all rock!!!!!!
Margaret and Corey, I will just chime in here with appreciation for this wonderful collaboration. A wonderful poetic exchange!
What can I say, but "Wow!"
This amazing collaboration worked on every level it possibly could!
.. 'love of an idea whose time has run its ill conceived course' ..
this line describes the craziness of war.
This what I like about poetry, how it captures the emotional aspect so well.
Well done, Margaret and Corey, SO well done!
I agree with Helen, that one line does describe the craziness of war, just as each line in this wondrous exchange of letters describes the depth of love that can exist in a family.
I haven't been able to write lately, or even to comment much at all, but I'm so glad I read this.
Two of my favorites, together on the same stage. yeah!
I love the format you guys chose.
A beautifully heart-wrenching collaboration...so very well done, Margaret and Corey!
I read this wonderful piece this morning and I love the format of the letters going back and forth. It was a story of family, love and anguish in the time of war and separation. The style of writing so wonderfully captures the time too ~
Great work both of you ~
I am thrilled with all the comments! You all inspire me every day and I just love this garden!
Amazing, it felt like a heartfelt tug, as the war changed them~ It was so clever to do it as letter~ I was enchanted, saddened and charmed by what you two have done! I think you, too should write a book together! Intriguing~ Bravo!
This was a wonderful collaboration. Two different styles of writing which gelled together and appeared so authentic for those times.
A round of applause to both of you. It made for a fabulous read.
Lovely piece; great idea. k.
such a great feel of response in this. poet to poet.
whoosh! wow, i am really moved by this and must read over and over. wow.
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