And I was there as well, I saw. My hands, too,
went out and made the world. I did not
only imagine the soldiers, I touched them.
I soothed, with cool rags, the dying Johnny soldier;
I soothed, with cool rags, the dying Michiganite;
I caressed their tender knobbed muscles, tender paunch;
soldered, with iron set to the banked blaze, more iron;
slammed the errant wagon wheel in place;
hammered in the things for hammering;
wiped the drooling face of the orphaned cow
whose mother was stolen by Lincolnites;
and dreamed to caress the tender muscle
of one Lincolnite who robbed as Robin Hood,
who spied me one whole week from a distant ridge
as I went through my nurse and farm girl chores,
and when he had stolen our second stolen cow
left me my allotted pitcher of blue cream. Know:
I, too, would have tendered my body on the field,
though I was tender, tender as any boy who could not say it–
who I would’ve killed, or as easily’ve doused,
at the first request, with my amorous wet.
Matt Prater is a poet and writer from Saltville, VA. Winner of both the George Scarbrough Prize for Poetry and the James Still Prize for Short Story, his work has appeared in a number of journals, including Appalachian Heritage, The Honest Ulsterman, The Moth, and Still. He is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at Virginia Tech.