Michael Estes

The Delaware

Love me for 18 years
and then

read about Hessians. Find a
website and become

an expert on the Hessians. They crossed the Atlantic
to fight Washington's army and found

the grass familiar.
Some had past lives,

recipes they had merely tolerated
or kids that crawled at them from other rooms

but could never cross the sea.
Some were like you in a white

work shirt and had never
left town, but did, and wrote

home about the trip. Some woke
that day from dreams of bread

as boys or their bosses wearing
browner shoes and ran to the first

ship they saw. Washington
tried to kill them all

then took a boat across a river.
Be his boot's dumb sole

as he stepped in the boat, or a crow
that saw his men. His men

had shoes like bandages and bandages that pressed
their limbs like ribbon on cut stems.

They saw deer in burned woods
and shot squirrels who turned to leaves. They wanted

a change. When Washington got out of the boat
under empty clouds, the crunch of grass

on the frozen earth sounded
a little different. Be his palms

as he almost told his men: this side sounds different.

Wendy XuMichael Estes writes and teaches in Louisville, Kentucky. His poems have appeared in Court Green, Margie, The Southeast Review, and elsewhere.