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What’s fated is the game hen,
the dish of praline dusted in sugar,
servants in rust-red coats,
the big house open for wounded.
An army bottlenecks behind
its horse-backed lieutenants.
Deserters call and wave their sacks
at the carriage bound for Petersburg.
A plump bird in a furry hat,
the young man dreams his unknown wife
he’ll meet four years down the road
who now plays cards in Paris.
First published in To the New World, copyright 2010. Included in Vox Populi by permission of the author.
Valerie Duff is the author of To the New World, published by Salmon Poetry, and Aquamarine, forthcoming from Salmon in 2022. She is a recipient of grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and St. Botolph Foundation for her work, she has also been awarded fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and from the Writers’ Room of Boston.