Salem Common On Training Day
The elm trees rise up like flames.
They line the common,
dwarfing the regiments and
their puny flags—red and white.
The soldiers are too far away
to see clearly—some red blurs,
some blue. Phalanxes.
No one is watching. The families
and children and wagons
and horses in the foreground
seem to pass slowly in front
of the elms. In the middle distance,
shadowy, a brown mass
of citizens surrounds
some political speaker.
the strolling civilians
and their leaping dogs,
is inside the white fence
that borders the common.
The republic is thirty-two years old.
No planes, of course, in the sky, just
specks of gulls, and dirty
cotton ball clouds. The elms,
not yet destroyed by disease,
seem like they are trying to hold
back the sunset, which explodes
orange at the tips of their leaves.
J.D. Scrimgeour is the author of two collections of poetry, The Last Miles and Territories, and two collections of nonfiction. His poems have appeared in many magazines, including Columbia, Ploughshares, Poetry, and Salamander. His third book of poems, Lifting the Turtle, is coming out in November. “Salem Common” is in that collection.
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