The School Bag

At Yorktown

Charles Olsen

At Yorktown the church
at Yorktown the dead
at Yorktown the grass
are live

           at York-town the earth
piles itself in shallows,
declares itself, like water,
by pools and mounds

At Yorktown the dead 
are soil
at Yorktown the church
is marl
at Yorktown the swallows
diver where it is greenest,
                                         the hollows
are eyes are flowers, the heather,
equally accurate, is hands

             at Yorktown only the flies
dawdle, like history,
in the sun

at Yorktown the earthworks
at Yorktown the mortars
of brass, weathered green, of mermaids
for handles, of Latin
for texts, scream
without a noise
like a gull

At Yorktown the long dead
loosen the earth, heels
sink in, over an abatis
a bird wheels

and time is a shine caught blue
from a martin’s