Battle Run Campground: 110 campsites
with public washrooms & laundry,
named for a Civil War site
where the two sides killed & bled
in a field with an unfortunate house
dead center. You can see an old cannon,
walk the grounds, peer through holes
piercing the home’s walls.
I pedaled my Pink Panther bike
down the paved lanes between sites
my mind constructing cloud castles
that all but covered my eyes.
Mal de aire: when the atmosphere
grows dense with the evil weighing it.
But I was a child & the day drowsed
in gentle clarity & in the lake sun
glittered upward to her sister
in the sky. My brother sped up to me,
skidded his BMX to a stop,
his face full of night, of knowing.
There’s a man following you
driving slowly in his car.
Paul wrote that if we could see
the spirits in the air around us,
we’d be terrified. Follow me,
my brother hissed, & we cut
across the grass as fast
as our spindly legs could propel us,
crossing paved paths,
shooting between campers
while startled dads glanced up
from their grills, mothers
paused pinning tablecloths
to picnic tables. We dropped
our bikes in gravel, scurried
into the safety of our green pop-up.
Mom stayed inside with us.
Dad drove the grounds
looking for the car, told the man
at the check-in booth to watch,
& then we returned to hot dogs, S’mores,
catching fireflies, sleeping
in beds suspended over bloody ground,
as if the world was not the world it is.
Editor’s Note: Sometimes, the best part of a narrative poem is the last line. This poem’s close invites a great deal of contemplation.