by Luke Mackinnon
“I am glad we lost the War and you won the National Book Award.”
A congratulatory letter from Flannery O’Connor to Walker Percy dated March 29, 1962.
Two shadows draped in dark lace — head to toe — glide over the
A train of heavy fabric falls like a roaring waterfall from their
And silently trails behind them collecting dust in the rubble and the
The hollow aftermath lies before their glassy widow-eyes, collapsed in the
Bullets and bugles have left behind black stacks and gray piles of
No score and four years ago there were no limbless bodies to
Fathers, sons, nicknames, laughter swelling in the viscid crimson fields with the
Perhaps — under their veils — the first sighs somber psalms and the second
The women wept. Streaming tears are not for a corpse
But more, more — for a mannered, vanished culture.
The skeleton of the city, bones of brick and mortar,
Stares blankly at the smokey horizon: the convergence
Of earth and sky.
Remaining spirals, walls, pillars, and glass suffocate one another below
As above looms a single flesh-hungry vulture.
There is no funeral procession: no shining stallion, nor flower-
Filled casket rolling along in one wagon for
The multitude who die.
A vivisection so violent — how to go on when all
Prior existence has been unrecognizably tainted by torture.
What remains of the courtesies exist only in the minds
Of shadows until lying with the others they
Unknot the last tie.
Marble tombstones groan, Nobilitas morum magis ornat quam genitorum.
Nobility of manners adorns better than that of birth.
Luke Mackinnon was born and raised in Texas. He recently received a BA in English Literature from Baylor University and is currently a graduate student at Dallas Theological Seminary, pursuing an MA degree in Christian Studies. He considers the South to be his home and cannot imagine living anywhere else where O’Connor, Faulkner and Percy are not household names. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd.