Augustus, thirteen, alliterate, oblivious
to governments’ dueling salivas,
slipped, at the beginning of the third week of September,
into the woods on his first solo
hunt, with a two-inch single-shot Winchester
.410, looking for the big gray squirrel, with dumplings.
In unison he and the squirrel were maneuvering
between the avant gardes of the Confederate
and Union armies. The first shot thugged
into the oak trunk. The next shot, from the other side,
opened his spinal column from between
his shoulder blades to the nape of his neck.
After the fire, fueled by the cotton
wadding in the trees, his brothers found him,
charred, chamber empty, the squirrel
soldered to his blackened hand.