The 1812 Campaign Uniform
“Have a look at it tomorrow and see what you think"—Natasha Rostova
You and I play Lucy
to one another's Ricky,
Josephine to one another's Bonaparte,
Cleopatra to one another's Antony,
Enkidu to one another's
of Tolstoy's War and Peace,
we lament the 1812 baggage train.
The numbers are hard to fathom:
two million pairs of boots
held in reserve at Danzig.
Four hundred fifty thousand conquerors
crossing the Niemen in June; only
twenty thousand frostbitten and famished,
tottering back over, come December.
When the retreat sets out, baggage
will be hauled by eighteen thousand
heavy draft horses; the siege-guns
and pontoons, by ten thousand oxen.
A million greatcoats will have been bought
from the West Riding of Yorkshire,
helping the English woolen trade
in a time of desperate need.
However, Napoleon will have sought
to cut the cost of these coats
by ordering tin buttons
instead of brass ones.
Painful to imagine
all those obedient men
trying to retreat from Moscow
in the November snow;
him not knowing that at low
temperatures tin undergoes
an allotropic transformation
and turns to dust.
Neptuno Snug Tower
Here the Lord of the Sea
is atop a serpent
and his spear is majestically
raised and poised to strike.
Originally, cast in zinc
and painted bronze
to curb the overall
Just like Napoleon
and those damned
tin buttons, penny-wise,
others’ eternity foolish.
“Us with groanings too deep for words."—Romans 8:26
As clear as a plow’s silvery gash,
an awful lesson in dominion;
were an alert teacher present,
it might have proven a teachable
moment. The elders of the local
church will not see
fit to lend us––its own
When a muscle in the back of my leg
tears, neither the coach, nor the three
others in the relay, realize––nor care––
that pain will hound me my entire
life. Belief clings. Faith lets go.
When I see Robert Mitchum
in Ryan’s Daughter stepping
behind the dressing screen the night
of his wedding, I understand his
uninspired hand, finding its way
up the bedspread to his bride’s back,
abandoned in the char of paradise.
West Side Maria
My sister sits on my bed
by the window, in a blue skirt
with a fuchsia petticoat,
a soft lavender top, and cerulean
shoes. We sing. Our differences
are interesting, but our likenesses
are more important. Her sorrow sinks
into white lace curtains.
Anybody’s love is their life.
Scott Hightower is the author of four books of poetry in the US and a bilingual collection published by Devenir, Madrid. Tartessos, his second bilingual collection, is forthcoming from Devenir. His translations from the Spanish have garnered him a Barnstone Translation Prize. Hightower is an adjunct professor at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.
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