portion of the artwork for Robert Aquinas McNally's poetry

Distant Relation
Robert Aquinas McNally

A minié ball swept him from the saddle,
and only sixteen, my grandmother said,
blue veins leaping the bones of her hands
as he must have leapt at the lead’s
thrusting kiss. A Yankee got him, she explained,
this boy riding dispatches through the Ozarks,
full of purity and purpose, when a sniper
laid him out at full gallop.

                                                A hundred years later,
the same age myself, I knew, as if I had been there,
death was slow in coming. He lay in the rutted dust
stunned by the fall, ache tunneling his innards,
and he wondered whether the captain would send riders,
if the surgeon had chloroform. At the last
he thought of the second daughter the next farm over,
how he longed to ask her into mayapple thickets
to lave their stripped skins in spring sun just once, just
this irrecoverable once.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 43 | Spring 2014