Somewhere a database
Holds the names,
Linked perhaps to a short bio,
Longer if you wish to pay,
Of all those living
At any given moment.
In another file,
All who have ever lived.
Clever software makes
One file will grow some,
Then contract a bit;
The other only grows.
A subdivision morning,
In the part of Virginia that is not really the South,
In the part of March that is not quite spring:
Slivers of sunlight angle around clouds
In a sky of washed-out blue,
A dull glint on slate-gray waters (not a real lake).
Master Sergeants keep their boats here.
Pines, some ice-snapped, some in arabesque
Before a solitary daffodil, tinged with frost.
Frances and Paul (not their real names) are packing to move again,
Up the interstate, an hour farther north.
Children of this waning American century,
They carry little furniture but lots of sweaters, compact disks,
Wedding gifts in boxes they came in,
To a warren of townhomes,
Each with a shallow-rooted tree
Set in soil fortified with fratricidal blood,
Where the builder’s shovel has turned over Minie balls,
Pieces of bayonets, buckles,
Belongings of other sojourners
In this now accentless land.
“Northern Virginia” appeared in Thorny Locust March 2001