Where the White Thistle Grows

The lizard crawls out of a chink in the old stone wall
—to gaze at us
petrifying our ragged band in gray
reenactors, zealous of the past
come to hear the scales on his back
a Shenandoah pastorale
played on cymbals of questing and research

Chipped, gray stones in the wall
reach out to touch the only star that you can see
and lose a part of yourselves in the process—
the last judgment, a thing of beauty and release
on the dolmen and long barrows of Mosby’s rangers
who, after the travesty at Appomattox, carried on
bringing to the lips of Lincoln, and the nation, a hemlock cup
as the answer to questions that echo through the valley
where the white thistle grows
on the songs of the unvanquished, unyielding dead

—WC Roberts