by Jason Li
Young men bent double in leaking canoes,Our worn uniforms grey Against the fall foliage. We were sardinesIn the Saint Lawrence. The provisions broughtFrom Boston lay damp and cold under our blankets.Memories suffered a similar fate. Some men suffered worse.One drowned, another was shot during a quarrel,A third collapsed while marching. From a distance,He seemed tipsy, even gay, leaning into Each step like a dance. Walking toward him,I saw only grim silence. Two soldiers and ILingered with him at the base of a sycamore tree.He talked incessantly about a lover, kindness, And used his last words on blueberry pie. His spent eyesStared outward like an actor’s, looking past stage lightsAnd into the darkness of the auditorium. That night, I dreamt about the drowned man. Perhaps it was a memory. His jaw moved violently,And the river rushed into his open mouth.