Solitude is the Brother of Invention

Fort Shipping Crate, fall 1954

At ten, I had begun to be too marveled
by make-believe to play make-believe.
I don’t even remember what war
we four were fighting, or whether
we were cavalry in blue or infantry
in khaki. We were all officers until
I decided to be a sergeant. Lowly.

They should have been able to guess.
I declared that I would stay at the fort,
protect it. No enemy would come.
We all knew that, especially I,
who would be only a sergeant. Sergeants
did not invent or lead. So the army,
all officers, all three, left, or sallied,
or something, outward anyway and gone.

No enemy came before the army
returned. The enemy attacked though,
before the officers could report. I was
quick to tell the officers almost nothing
about the battle they had missed. “Unfair!
You can’t just sit here and make up
some old battle when we were out
beating the enemy. It’s not fair.”

So the army left in its officered huff.
I stayed behind, neither conscientious
nor especially objecting, savored
my third victory until I got bored
and went home, warless, unmedaled,
unstoried until now, winning or not,
foolish pacifism still foolishly intact
while my fellow grandfathers sixgun
their senile way among bleeding innocents.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.