The Long Perdurable Rowing

18 April 2017

Not even so much as one lick
of water could be heard,
or the sound would betray them,
so close did they row
past the vast black hulk
of the Somerset guarding the mouth
of the Charles.

So dark the night, even black
could not describe it
as the blades of the oars,
wrapped in flannel, did their muffled
work across the river,
Joshua Bentley and Thomas Richardson
rowing, rhythmically, Revere,

to where he would break
into his ride. (Simultaneously,
across Boston Neck, rode
William Dawes, to shout
the mantra, “The Regulars are out!”)
In Charlestown, the men had seen
the lanterns hung high in Christ’s.

Revere mounted Mr. Larkin’s
finest horse and rode
the back of the night toward Lexington,
reining in at taverns,
houses, knots of men,
shouting the mantra, “The Regulars are out!”
And the men armed.

The air over the quiet
Green, at Lexington,
was combed cold with electricity.
Men had gathered in the tavern
to keep warm. The Clark house
slept the sleep of the assured,
until they exploded awake

at Revere’s banging on the door,
his mantra a clarion,
a prayer of warning that caused rise
the whole of the countryside.
The Regulars were on the march
to arrest Adams and Hancock,
and deliver them to the King for treason.

They slipped away in quiet escape,
while, gathered on the Green, men
who stood their ground,
ground on which eight of them
were to fall to Regulars’ shot,
their blood become the stream
the colonies began rowing,

the long perdurable rowing
to freedom from tyranny.

Philip Kuepper
(21 February 2017)

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