Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harvest Moon

Happy last day of summer! More like unhappy last day of summer I know, but this last night of the season is something spectacular, so it can not be all that bad. Tonight is the harvest moon, and it has been a while since I posted, so I figured that I would write a poem about it.

Harvest Moon

The brilliant red maple leaf carried on a wind born of mountain's breath signals her coming.
As does the departing geese's honking, and the frantic chittering of gathering squirrels.

She is greeted by the outstretched arms of the scarecrow, and the ever flitting bats, with their leathery wings that were cut out of the night itself.
Lighting the work of the midnight reaper, casting the cornfields in a silvery glow.

The still air is pierced, the keening of the coyote, his temptress more radiant that ever.
He and his kin, distracted in their hunt, bay in their longing.

The lady of the night, laying in her bed of black velvet and diamonds; mystifying in her secretive splendor, wraps herself in a flowing gown of clouds, with the silver lining embroidering the collar.

Her fingers of mist run threw the patchwork of cornfields, and of pumpkin patches, and open pasture.
Finding the howling pack of broken hearts, stroking their wiry fur, enfolding them in serenity.

causing a hush to ring across the land

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Final Chapter

As a school project, my novella was required to have around ten journal entries from the characters of the story. So in this chapter, I chose to right most of it in journal entry, instead of spreading them out through all of the different chapters. Also, if the story seemed a bit rushed to you, that was because the novella was required to span for a decade or so, from antebellun to postbellum, and fitting ten years into thirty pages or so is not a simple task.

Chapter Four
Molly had been shaken up after Gettysburg, not that her fellow soldiers were in a much better position. They had lost many men, and many more of them seriously wounded. Molly longed to hear from Sam, and longed even more that she could see him again.
The weeks dragged on and on at an outrageously slow pace, almost as someone were slowing time down just for Molly’s personal inconvenience.
One day, some three months after Gettysburg, Molly was marching through a confederate orchard, the soldiers were grabbing the fruit off of the trees. They were mostly apples, once the soldiers had eaten the fruit, they chucked the cores at crows for their own amusement. Molly could not help but think how this orchard looked very much to the one on her father’s plantation, the one where Sam had broken his leg. Then, a thought came to her, is my father’s plantation being trashed like this? Is my southern family taking refuge with relatives in Richmond like so many other families? When Father had talked of war on the plantation, such a long time ago, he had compared it to a game of chess. With certain rules and whatnot that you did not break. Total war is nothing like a game of chess, I wonder where he got that silly idea.
It was now the year of 1864, the fourth year of the war, and the country had taken on the grim air of the miserable people who were living in it. If there was anything both the Confederation and the Union could agree on, it was that they wanted this macabre horrendous was to be over.

The journal of Samuel Douglas
October 1, 1864
Boston, Massachusetts
It has been almost a year since Molly signed up for the army, and I have barely heard from her. Every time there is a battle, I find myself sprinting off to the nearest newsstand to find out if ‘Roger Douglas’ is among the living. Luckily, so far she has always been on that list. Still, this war has been very rough on me -on everyone- in one year I have seemed to age twenty. Despite the good news with W.T. Sherman, it seems the only reason that I keep hope or faith in this war is that it has given the prospect that slavery might be abolished. If the Union falls, all my work as an abolitionist for the past ten years will be all for naught. We, as people, must not let the Union fall, because, what the other side stands for is just to atrocious to think of as human behaviour.

The diary of Molly ‘Roger’ Douglas
October 1, 1864
Outside Black Stone, Virginia
12th Massachusetts
I am writing this entry today to put down a rather shocking occurrence that happened earlier this week, since I have not had time to write lately. My regiment was setting up camp, when another regiment came marching along. They had no intentions of staying, for they had orders to go elsewhere, but they came to give us some prisoners of war. Whom they would have had a hard time containing if they had not transferred them. I was appointed as one of the guards. One of the prisoners looked exceedingly familiar, ‘what is your name?’ I asked him, he replied, ‘John Douglas’, my little stepbrother! I nearly collapsed from shock then and there, I had not seen John in over ten years! He had grown up so much, but under the thick mustache and scruffy beard, sure enough, it was him. He was very gruff and unfriendly- I suppose that I would be too if I were a prisoner of war- but still, he is so different from that boy who was always smiling from ear to ear. Of course, he did not recognize me.
On to some better news now, today while we were marching, we came across some torn up railroad all mangled into things that we call Sherman’s hairpins and Jeff Davis Neckties. They were hung on every tree nearby, and we knew that General Sherman had been there. With all of the damage that he has been doing, I would not be surprised if the war was over by the end of this year.
Apparently, Tristen has a love for Shakespeare. I never knew that, and when I told him that I did as well, he was quite shocked. obviously most soldiers are not the literary type. He began to recite sonnet 19, when I joined in, he raised his eyebrows in surprise. It was great fun!

The journal of Samuel Douglas
November 15, 1864
Boston, Massachusetts
President Lincoln has been reelected, thank goodness! Not that Gen. McClellan would have made a horrible commander in chief, but Lincoln has a good head on those broad shoulders of his. I trust him to get us out of this mess of a war, Diana agrees with me on this.
I received a letter from Molly today! She says that she is alive and very thankful for her health; it appears that her friend, Tristen O’Reilly, has caught some form of influenza. But he was doing well, the letter was dated October 27, so I should suspect that he has recovered by now. I have been so worried about my sister lately, but I will be able to rest easier tonight having read this letter.

The diary of Molly ‘Roger Douglas
November 15, 1864
North of Danville, Virginia
12th Massachusetts
Some sort of madness has crossed over me, it may have had something to do with some of the whiskey that Tristen offered me that he has been using to ‘sooth his throat’ after that nasty sickness he has had. That has to be the lamest excuse to consume alcohol I think that I have ever heard- it would be pathetic even if he had not been well for over two weeks. Anyway, my madness that I was referring to is that I was getting half-a-mind to reveal my identity to John. I do not know why. I guess it just pains me to keep my own stepbrother prisoner, but if I did tell him all he would do is go around telling anybody and everybody he sees that I was not who I appeared to be. He always was a blabbermouth.
Word has reached our regiment that Abraham Lincoln has been reelected as president. I am quite excited about this; I would have voted for him if I had the right to vote. Many of my fellow soldiers were McClellan supporters and I heard more than one of them call the president a ‘Lincolnpoop’. Lincoln is the farthest thing from a nincompoop though, so it puzzles me why they would say such a thing.

The journal of Samuel Douglas
April 2, 1865
Boston, Massachusetts
Today, as I was walking down the street to buy a sandwich from the delicatessen, there was a huge commotion in the in the city. The people seemed to be celebrating, I heard one call out ‘the Rebs have themselves beat now!’
When I reached the deli and asked the server if he could please tell me what in the blue blazes had everybody so excited, he replied, ‘didn’t you hear? We have taken Richmond!’ I was shocked! I had slept in, and so I went out for a late breakfast or an early dinner, and had not bothered to read the morning paper. It was astonishing, and when I had eaten, I went back outside to join in the celebrating! Everybody was in a good mood, a weight had been taken off of all of us. The idea that the war might actually be ending was almost inconceivable! After all of those battles where victory had been so close at hand, those opportunities that had fallen through our fingers, many people had begun to take on a pessimistic view of things. Today though, all the rain clouds over people’s heads evaporated when the bright news of Richmond’s taking came.

The diary of Molly ‘Roger’ Douglas
April 2, 1865
Leesville Lake, Virginia
12th Massachusetts
John Douglas, prisoner of war was moved again today to a different regiment. I do not know whether or not I shall ever see him again, but as he was leaving, the strangest thing happened! His eyes glazed over as if deep in thought, and just as they were taking him away, he looked at me and some recognition ignited in his face. Just at that moment though, the soldier from the Maine regiment who was taking him moved him forward, that was the last I saw of him.
We were moving our prisoners because we were ordered to go directly to Richmond and could not keep some twenty prisoners in check all the while.
I had no time to be sad though, for the reason that we were ordered to Richmond was that it had been taken! We were sent over there to help keep control of the city and its population. Oh, it is just so astounding the a]capitol of the confederacy is taken! It makes me want to bring out a bottle of champagne and celebrate, for now we know that the war is coming to an end.

The journal of Samuel Douglas
April 9, 1865
Boston, Massachusetts
There are no words that I can think of that properly describe the news that is spreading like a blazing inferno throughout the country: General Lee surrendered to General Grant at the Appomattox Court House! Everyone is ecstatic and celebrating the Union’s victory. The overwhelming sense of joy that the war has ended is simply ludicrous.
I can only imagine what a relief this must be for the soldiers, though Molly’s contract is not up for another two months, I am sure that they will be a much more relaxed two months then the type of hustling about and walking ten miles a day like she has been doing for such a long time.
When I write it like this it seems so odd, but I have not seen Molly in two years. I cannot wait until the next to wretched months are over. It will be unbelievably wonderful to see my sister again!

The diary of Molly ‘Roger’ Douglas
April 9, 1865
Richmond, Virginia
12th Massachusetts
Lee surrendered to Grant today, the war has ended! Though, there is still a lot of work ahead of us. We have to all work together to help rebuild the South and all the houses and properties that were destroyed. I suspect that is what our army is going to be doing, seeing as there is no more fighting. All of the soldiers have to do something until their contracts expire. Unfortunately, Tristen’s contract is a month longer than mine. I will just have to meet up with him once his expires.
The war has ended, the war has ended. The fact is taking a long time to sink, it just seems to good to be true! And along with the closing of the war comes the closing of slavery! The ideal that Sam, Diana, and all of the abolitionists, myself included, have been trying to reach for such a long time is speeding towards us.
Oh, and that champagne I was talking about a week or so ago, well someone was able to get their hands on a bottle. Goodness knows how, it was quite a decent variety too, the man was generous enough to pour some in the waiting mess cups of the people around him. It brought back the aristocratic side of me, needless to say, I have not associated with that side of myself in a very long.
Anyway, I think I will turn in for tonight, it has been a busy day and I think I will be able to sleep with pleasant dreams, now that I know that this monstrosity of a war has finally ended for good.

The journal of Samuel Douglas
April 14, 1865
Washington D.C.
It is around 10:00 AM and I am here in Washington D.C., on a spontaneous trip that Diana insisted on taking to celebrate- among other things as well- the beginning of our courtship. It appears she has been waiting for me to ask her to court her for a while, because when I sent my letter explaining my intentions, her reply was not what I had expected it to be. Instead of ‘Oh Samuel, I would love to!’ Or even, ‘I do not want to jeopardize our friendship, so I respectfully decline.’ Her five word reply was, ‘well it is about time.’
I have never been to the District of Columbia before, and so far it has been quite an interesting place. Diana and I went to see the Capitol building and the White House yesterday after we arrived here by train. We are going to the theater tonight after supper, the play we will be watching is called Our American Cousin. Diana has seen it before and tells me that it is hilarious.
11:00 PM
I am horrified and completely enraged! Tonight, at the performance Abraham Lincoln was shot! I was sitting with Diana toward the back of the theater, and this man finds his way into the president’s booth and shoots him! After he pulled the trigger he said something, Diana and I were to far away to make it out, but we heard some people say that he said ‘The South is avenged!’ We heard others say that the assassin said ‘Sic semper tyrannis’, thus always to tyrants. The name of that evil man is John Wilkes Booth, or so the authorities say. I cannot think of a man fouler than a man who would dare murder such a glorious man as Abraham Lincoln!

The diary of Molly ‘Roger’ Douglas
April 15, 1865
Richmond, Virginia
12th Massachusetts
Today, we were informed that the president died, he was shot at Ford’s theatre last night. There was no hope in his surviving. I am deeply distraught. Why did this have to happen, now of all times? Right when the war was ended and everyone was in high spirits. Just yesterday I was celebrating, and now I am mourning. It seems nothing good goes without some punishment or sacrifice.
Andrew Johnson will take Lincoln’s place as president. I do not think he will be nearly as good though, I mean, he was drunk at the second inaugural.
The assassin, and the rest of the conspirators will probably be sentenced to death once they are captured- and I can assume there is a large price on their heads. Still, deaths for a death, I am sure that there is a more poetic way to put this, but would it not just mean more bloodshed, after the war is supposed to be over? I am not saying that I am sorry for them, I think that they still deserve it, but the whole spectrum of killing and murdering, it just seems tiresome and frustrating after a time.
Despair is a curious thing, you try to talk yourself out of it, but you keep going in circles, and the question that keeps coming up is why. Why did it have to be Abraham Lincoln? He was one of the men who I looked up to and respected the most. Why now? why?
All of these are just rhetorical I guess, and I do not even know if it would help at all even if I did know the answers. I am too shocked to really know anything right now, so I guess i might as well turn in. I will feel better after some sleep, and a chance to further process the horrendous news that I have heard today.

The journal of Samuel Douglas
August 10, 1865
Boston, Massachusetts
Tristen is coming to visit tomorrow, Molly has been anticipating this meeting ever since she arrived home a little over a month. She is very excited for me to meet him, but is also nervous. She hasn’t told Tristen about her being a girl yet, and plans to tomorrow. I can only imagine what that is going to be like, ‘hello Tristen, good to see you again. There’s something I need to tell you, I am not actually a boy.’ Of course, I will be there to back her up, but from what Molly tells me, he is very open minded, so I am not overly worried.
I am going to a jeweller this afternoon, to purchase a ring for Diana, Molly has sworn not to tell Diana, she told me if Diana asks, Molly will tell her I am at the bar. She has not teased me as much about my proposing as I would have suspected. Though, it seems too good to be true, once I ask Diana to marry me, than she will probably tease me incessantly. Over the years I have learned to hold my own against my sister, and I do have many retorts that are full of wit up my sleeve, should I need them.

The diary of Molly Douglas
April 11, 1865
Boston, Massachusetts
Today, when Tristen came to visit, I was fairly blunt about telling him about how I am a girl and slipped into the army because I wanted to fight for my country anyway. Before I was done, I was resisting teh urge to succumb to a fit of laughter. The expression on his face kept becoming more and more hilarious as I continued to talk! When I stopped there was an awkward silence, then, he said, ‘so you weren’t suffering from a cold all of that time. It was just you keeping your voice low, and when you forgot to your voice would sound like a girl’s voice because you are a girl.’ ‘Yes,’ I was answered, barely able to keep my composure. ‘Oh,’ he replied. After some more conversation, the facts finally began to sink in. He did not seem to mind, in fact he took the news much better than I expected. In my heart of hearts, I thought he would walk out of the door and never look back, but he was much to startled to do anything of the kind.
Tristen tells me that he is going back down to the South in a few weeks to continue to help with Reconstruction out of the confines of the military. I was a bit upset to hear this because I had been hoping to be able for him to become acquainted with Molly, and not Roger. He has promised to right when he can though, so that is good. I wish him the best of luck on his endeavor, helping to repair the damage in the South. I feel more than a bit of remorse though, thinking of how I helped cause that destruction, but I believe that the United States will be a better place because of it.

Despite Molly’s effort to distract herself by counting the baby’s breath blooms in Diana’s bouquet, her feet ached from standing as the maid of honor. All the preparations had come down to this moment when her brother and Diana said ‘I do’. Molly remembered when she first met Diana, all those years ago, the way Sam had interacted, and was not at all surprised it had come to this. Though, she did wish that her brother could have waited until she had found someone herself, seeing as now he would have to right to call her a spinster. Well, not really, but he could if he was trying to be mean, and she preferred to have the upper hand on the names when it came to their fights. Which were really for her entertainment of seeing her brother become red in the face from frustration than anything else.
All of the guests flocked around the new couple, giving them their well-wishings, many of the women could do nothing but stare at Diana’s white wedding dress. So many people could not afford such a gown, but her parents had been wealthy to some degree, and had saved Diana’s mother’s dress for her to wear. Molly did have to agree it was exquisite, a neat row of shell buttons down the back, lace adorned the sleeves, collar, and hem. There were even pearls sewn onto the shoulders. The dress was not stark white, it was more of an eggshell, which contrasted very nicely with the color of the bride’s hair.
“Hello Roger.”
The familiar voice pulled Molly out of the reverie she had not even realized that she was in, “Tristen, I did not see you at the service!”
“Alas, the train that I took up from Richmond was delayed. I do apologize,” he said, turning to Sam and Diana who had come to greet the late arrival.
“That is quite all right Tristen,” replied Sam, “it is much better to have you arrive late than never at all.
“Well that is good to hear, I was worried that I would have to asked the priest for a penance.”
They all laughed, “oh, no Tristen, of course not,” Diana assured the man.
“How long is your presence gracing us Tristen?” inquired Samuel.
“Two weeks, I am in between employment at the moment, but I have enough saved for this holiday.”
“That is quite good news,” Sam said, “Diana are going to honeymoon at the Cape for a week, it will be good to know that my sister has some company while we are gone.”
“Yes, quite,” put in Diana, winking slyly at Molly, she had turned out to be even worse about teasing Molly about Tristen then Sam.
Molly could feel herself blushing and turned her head away from her seeing, siblings, in-law or not, were still siblings, and they knew more about how to embarrass or poke fun then one gave them credit for.
The rest of that day was a blur to Molly, the next thing she could remember clearly was falling onto her bed from the exhaustion of such a long day, a long several years really. It had seemed that there had been so much happening for so long, that Molly had never really had a chance to reflect on all the things that had happened to her in a relatively short amount of time. And now at last, she seemed to have the time to do that. She was about to blow out the candle by her bed, when she realized she was holding a crumpled up piece of paper in her hand. It was an address, she remembered now, a place where she and Tristen were to meet the following day. Molly had completely forgotten she had it. Placing the address on her bedside table beside her candle, she watched the candlelight dance across the waxy parchment for a while in a fatigued, detached sort of interest, then, blew out the candle, and let the dark velvety folds of sleep take her.