Monday, January 27, 2014

Nancy Scott

Re-enactment, Princeton Battlefield, New Jersey

The battle was already over when we arrived.
Her Quaker school just yards away, the proximity
both intrigued and horrified Leah.
Coaxed into entering the battlefield art contest,
she’d insisted, No soldiers, no guns.
Her Betsy Ross stitching the flag (extra star, stripes
running the wrong way) was displayed
with more accurate accounts at the Clarke House
on the hilltop where General Mercer
had bravely died.

The British side was about uniforms. We’re Loyalists,
men dressed in dark blue said, raccoon tails
perched on their heads. Gone familiar tri-corne hats,
because the British kept firing at us.
A tall soldier in green told us he was with
the New Jersey Volunteers, Loyalists too.
He learned down to show Leah the silver buttons
sewn on his jacket. Vaguely polite, she fixed
on the rifle slung over his shoulder.
Let’s go, she said, tugging my hand.

An errant round of fake artillery startled Leah.
Escaping from behind enemy lines, we trekked
down the hill to the Continental Army encampment—
soldiers not as plentiful or uniforms flashy.
Militia looked as if they’d just set down their plows.
Withering sense of disarray. Washington
had left on his white horse; piles of cannonballs,
chicken roasting on a spit, woman rinsing pewter
plates in a wooden bucket. Nobody paid us attention.
I bought Leah a yo-yo and we went home.


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