Criseyda in Spain

He left his home
in East Luxembourg, the Flemish part,
in 1799, wearing silver buckles on his shoes.
I don’t have the details.
Whether they were a going-away gift
or something he wore every day,
cunningly carved or inlaid with stone
no one now living knows.
He fought under Napolean,
was a prisoner of war in Spain,
which is a long way from Flanders,
and I wonder whether he walked there
or went by ship
or if he ever saw a dark-veiled widow
ransomed from a besieged citadel,
or if he himself ever won the love of such a woman
breaking another man’s heart thereby.
But I do know that when he came home in 1810
his mother recognized those buckles
and said, Du bist er?

—Judy Swann


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