Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Cinco de Mayo


Zaragoza looks out on the fields wet with rain,
the mud that flows over the trampled terrain.
The wind in the face is now humid and hot.
He sighs, for he knows that his army is caught;
though at Puebla is safety, at least for a while,
defense on defense to weather the trial,
two forts newly linked by a trench laid in haste,
yet the French are now coming to lay all to waste.
Of the greatness of France, no word need be said,
the might of its force writ in soldiers now dead;
but here -- draw a line for its ruthless demand,
and let it be bitten as it stretches its hand.

Now hearken -- artillery booms out its cry;
insistent with tremor, the cannons let fly.
Too quick and too late have the French made advance,
and, seeking swift winning, they lost their best chance.
Their horses now turn in the sigh of retreat,
but soon are they met by hooves steady and fleet
as the Mexican cavalry swoops on their flanks
and troops in their ambush pour out their ranks.
The rain is now falling like heavenly grace
and all the French army is sliding in place,
and, frantic in flight, slip here and now there
as blood like to rust is incensing the air.

Zaragoza looks out on the field, lost in thought,
and sighs, for he knows that his army is caught,
and speaks the words hardest for commanders to say,
and tells his sure troops to stop now and stay:
Defeat may be birthed by a win stretched too far;
repair and look well on the night filled with stars
that fortune with favor has made you to see
with eyes yet alive and spirits yet free.
The French are defeated, at least for a breath,
and now is the time to retreat from more death.
'The national arms have been covered with fame';
immortal shall be Zaragoza's own name.

Zaragoza looks out on the fields he has won.
Perhaps he thinks back on the course he has run.
Perhaps he hears pipers rejoicing in tune.
Perhaps he foresees that his death will be soon.

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