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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2109898-Down-at-the-Creek-Bank
by Harry
Rated: 13+ · Poetry · History · #2109898
A long, thought-provoking poem telling a tale from the "Civil War Between the States."
The Civil War battle had raged all day;
the air had been filled with gun smoke
from rifles fired and cannons’ blasts
and with Rebel yells mixed with cries
of anguish and pain from both lines.
The ground was soaked red with blood.
The dead and disfigured littered the field.
Nightfall had called a halt to that day’s
bloodletting. The morrow promises
a continuation of the sorrow.

A small creek runs between enemy lines.
Here soldiers from each side come
to fill canteens and wash away
the grime and blood from battle.
In the darkness a southern lad
calls over, “Hey, Yank, where you from?”

The man answers, “Michigan. How ‘bout
you, Reb? Where’s your home?”
“I’m from Georgia. I’m sure missing it now.”
The Yankee responds, “Yeah. I also miss my home,
my family dearly. Wonder if I’ll see them again?”

Quiet fills the space between the two men.
The Rebel breaks the silence with,
“What are you fighting for, Yank?”
The words in reply hang heavy in the air.
“I’m fighting to preserve the union
and to end slavery to make all men free.
Why are you fighting, Reb?”
“I am fighting to defend my home
and family from northern invasion.”

The Yankee asks, “Do you own slaves?”
A quiet laugh from the Rebel crosses
the creek. “No. Never have, never will.
I’m a poor farmer with just enough
land to feed my family. Don’t hold
much with slavery anyhow. That’s
the wealthy plantation owners’ concern.”

The two men spend the next half-hour
with talk of their families, their hopes
for after the war, their love of their state,
their concerns for the welfare and futures
of their young children, their own dreams.
Their exchange is warm and friendly.

The Rebel says, “Yank, you are a lot like me.
We might be good friends were not for this war.
I hope we don’t meet on the field of battle.
I’d sure hate to kill a good man like you.”
The Yankee responds, “I share your feelings.
Take care you don’t get killed in this war.”
From the Rebel, “You, too, Yank.”

The night is dark, with clouds obscuring
the moonlight. As they prepare to leave,
a break comes in the cloud cover,
casting a brighter glow over the creek.
“Hey, Yank, step out of the trees into
the moonlight so’s I can get a look at you.”
The man steps forward into the brightness.

The Rebel is shocked at what he sees.
“Why, you’re a Colored man!”

Thus it was back then;
so it remains all too often today.

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