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Rosalind Kaliden


—from Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill by John Trumbull
from Letters, Abigail Adams, Sunday, June 18, 1775

Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill by John Trumbull

At the crown of Penn’s Hill, Abigail and son John Quincy Adams1
balance on rough stones, cover the heads of ragged Revolutionaries
with prayer. Red-coat lines snake toward Breed’s Hill. Smoke,
orange flames, hilltop Charlestown, a holocaust to stop snipers.
Wind snaps their clothing, they shudder, she wraps her fingers
around his eight-year-old arms, a visible vein pulses in his tender temple,
twenty-four hours of cannon roar, windows rattle. Sunny day in June,
eyes squint over the fallen bodies, twisted legs, shocked faces drop,
cries for help, blood soaks uniforms and the grass. Outnumbered,
rifles empty, the exhausted young army retreats over Bunker Hill.2

Too many good souls fly by. Abigail watches General Warren’s children.
At the front, he raises his rifle, shouts to his men — fight for your brethren,
your sons, your daughters, your wives, your houses! — Toward the end,
a bullet pierces his cheek, he dies. Heart bursting, lips purposed, Abigail blinks
back tears, inhales a healing, lavender-scented paper, squares her Yankee chin,
Charlestown smolders, long-absent husband John congresses in distant
Philadelphia, under candlelight, she vents at her pen… The race is not to the swift,
nor the battle to the strong… The God of Israel gives strength and power
to his people…the loss of Charlestown…no more than a Drop in the Bucket.

1Abigail Adams, mother to son John Quincy, sixth president of the United States of America.
2 The pyrrhic English victory, twice the number of men, ninety-four officers die.


About the writer:
In 2018, Rosalind Kaliden published her first full-length book Trysting with the Divine, a collection of ekphrastic poems. Her poetry appeared in Obsidian in 2018. Her poetry appeared in Caterpillar in Ireland in 2017 and in The Courtship of Winds, DASH Literary Journal, Evening Street Press, Existere Journal, Gemini Magazine, Jelly Bucket, Ignatian Literary Magazine, The MacGuffin, Qwerty Magazine, Valparaiso Review, Moon City Review, The Hollins Critic, Quiet Lunch, The Round, Scarlet Leaf Review, and Vox Poetica. In 2016, Kaliden published her first chapbook, Arriving Sideways, with John Gosslee Books. In 2015, Dappled Things and others featured her poetry.

Image: Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill on 17 June, 1775 by John Trumbull (1756-1843). Oil on canvas. 19.75 x 29.75 inches. After 1815 & before 1831. Public domain.

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