Draining the Marshes

Eric Kingsepp

Along the marches they fought,
into the marshes they sought,
and they slogged and they slopped
Seeking, ever seeking
for those that went before. . .

Brown water and mud:
the black mere does not lie,
but there many lie
bodies, and
no air

A boy exploring the wood
if he should call out
in the wood. . .

Father and friends, warring,
fighting, a rout.
They flee; they rest.
This place is safe; it is good,
they hear.

Then the rains came.

Wood became wet,
Flat became flood,
land became mud,
dragging down
men into marsh—
down, down,
through terra
infirma, and
no air

Up swelled the swamp.
Hill became barrow
harbor became hell
and hell became

Great praise and men live on,
but where now the scops?
Realms rise and fall, but the land remains.
Behold the silent witnesses.

(When heroic acts were systemic
and everywhere harpers were heard
Who guessed it should be that chemical
reactions be louder than words?)

The body dies, but little decays
and stays to speak to us today
with rotting eyes, and silent lays.

The bog drains down,
The buried come up
up, up
into the light
preserved by that same deadly dark,
revealed by their sons’ distant sons,
into the air

She broke this bone,
right here she fell.
He lived this way.
He died this well.

Helmets and rings
honor and praise
history, culture

Light and dark
bane and boon
the bog.

Eric Kingsepp recieved his B.A. and M.A. from Christendom College. He is a member of the American Inklings writers’ group in Washington, DC.