Scenes from Parallel Worlds of a
Small Town on the Chesapeake Bay
British muskets snapped the silence of air
And dissolved blood-dilated skin and muscle
In the small town two hundred years ago.
The buckle-cinching militia in all whiteness,
Loose from lager, passed once in the shape
Of a body inverted, then merged with woods.
The single militia battery, one iron cannon
In quiet irrelevancy, was laid aside.
Releasing all elements from wood,
A flame just touched off moved in stoic image
Seeing to be the sun. Black smoke twisted
Once and sought the form of a near whole sky.
Ashes, coming apart in the just-balanced light,
Awaited the quick return to earth and
All stone walls left standing.
Today, the leaves released in calm chatter
Fabricate a once told story
In the many colored drifting of words.
Within the heads of creatures, the moment
Of inactivity ceases in bold notions of equilibrium.
Small boats in quick rust move beyond
The bulk discoloration of metal.
Move slowly to this side and turn awkwardly,
Proceed between the clear space-time plates
Left half hanging in air. Arrive in an
Where all possibilities are played out.
Enter the old tavern at an angle warped towards
The obtuse. Drank ale from a tin cup and
Absolve all sins. Listen to the bartender read
Passages from the Farmer's Almanac and predict
The severity of the coming winter. Watch light
Pass through his body and contemplate the
Pattern on the wall. Join the pig-iron workers
Now arrived and sing the words you have
Written in soot with your finger.
Rush from the tavern as the Britsh
Release all trembling volleys in quick time. Lie still
In a bone-depleting position by the cannon
Were you have fallen. Watch people etch names
In stone walls left standing and dump the last kettles of
Blood pudding into the bay. Wish the bartender
Well as he bends down and ties your socks together.
Sink into the bed of a tomb with thoughts of
Riding with the four horsemen as your
Many lives continue in the adjoining universes.
Philip Bartram lives in Bel Air, Maryland and has recently retired. He writes occasionally. His latest poems were published in the Camel Saloon and Black Poppy Review.