A Letter for All-Hallows Poem by Peter Kane Dufault

A Letter for All-Hallows



I am still hurt, Plin,
by your desertion. Now and again,
between rains, or among
sagged syllables on a page,
I am stopped suddenly by your grinning
lantern-jawed, monkey-eared beautiful face —
and I am hurt because you went to war
and died right in the middle of your letters
and never said goodbye.

And then your father followed you,
at a respectful distance,
and the high house on the hill went
for a Trappist monkery. . . . I hope those monks
have veneration for the juniper
and the blackberries and the frogpond
and the dust of toy-soldiers in the attic
where we warred long November afternoons. —
Above all, for the black road that,
if I listen on All-Souls' Eve, will clatter
to the gait of you riding home
from the white woods on Diamond, your horse.

The glue is long since dry
they made of him. Yet we mark well:
He was the last of the historic horses.
Revere rode him, and Sheridan,
and Sitting Bull. . . .

I hope those monks treat you gently, shades
galloping alongside the emptying meadows,
from Concord and Lexington,
from the fords of the Shenandoah,
the forks of the Little Bighorn.

Surely they would not be unmerciful
and frighten away with signs and bells and torches
so young an old-soldier and his friend
who, one way or another, were made ghosts
in all their country's wars.

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