Poetry: “Civil War Re-enactment: Kure Beach, NC, January 2017” by Suzzanna Matthews-Amanzio

The artillery drumfire of a civil war re-enactment—a frenzy of small
birds, cries syncopated, rise—scattershot from the twisted branches

Trees lie beyond the dunes—Carolina live oak—from the beach we see
the canopy stunted, flat—feruled by headwinds

There is history that seethes beneath the sea—that keeps lapping at the
land

Shading our eyes we can see the shore stretching further south

The sand before us looks placid, flat clean—there lie the shells, sea glass
the broken pieces of what was—the expanse of this coast reaches out,
and the future holds all of it

The tide comes in—hungry
Waves reclaim ­­the outcrop of rocks on which we stand

Birds sit false-calm over the swell of it the seas, the oceans

The brine, cold-bitter water reaches, fills the crevices in the rocks, pools
like so many memories—they swell and recede

The salt of it stings where my hands scraped bracing against the rock
Looking down at the ridges of clam shells

I study the limpet clung to stone—it moves, in ways only seen
undistracted by the larger, the looming

It leaves its mark—thin grooves on the surfaces where it wipes the slate
clean—on one side of the rock then the other, from light to dark—a
balance

But the stubborn algae it blooms in the crags and pitted faces of stone
It grows back—and again

The artillery fire echoes could be confused with thunder, but to those
looking up the sky is unnaturally clear, for a storm to manifest
unnoticed

A Confederate canon fired the day before MLK—and the Fort Fisher
memorial just reads “it was about states’ rights and not the institution of
slavery,” the narrative of the “Lost Cause.”

A line of birds overhead, a moving banner—the black silhouetted
against the blue

The curve of beach it shifts, edges of rock dull and sharpen, the rounded
dunes and trees swept back by salt winds—there’s beauty in how
landscape alters

I stand on the brick stair of the monument—obelisk, pillar
and do not know how to honor or condemn the dead

But adjudge the cannonade, the persistent hate and ideology—repulsed
at repetition time and time again—and again

The rancor and the bile of it, condemns us to our past

Three years ago, on another stretch of eastern shore, a missile washed
up—thought lost to the depths of cold Atlantic—harbored, then
returned—just as live and dangerous

 

 

***

Suzzanna Matthews-Amanzio is a graduate of Mills College in Oakland, California. While she considers California home, she grew up in New England and has lived, studied, and traveled abroad: from Latin America to Spain, the Caribbean to the Pacific, Newfoundland to Japan. Along the way, she picked up a few languages, lots of life experience, and a wrote a collection of stories. She is currently a first-year MFA candidate in fiction at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. It is her first time living in the South. Post 11/12/16 she has begun writing about writing from conflicted spaces.

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