Early on Thursday
a truck, toting a backhoe
arrived at the small, grey-blue house
to undo the ordinary cement patio.
As a jackhammer did its work,
jagged slabs of concrete loosened
for the backhoe to scoop up.
the concrete did not bend or flex.
Awkwardly, the backhoe coaxed
each piece toward the waiting truck.
the earth took a deep, cleansing breath.
Shaking off the modern mantle,
the ground released woolen threads
from a tartan picnic blanket
that lay on this spot in 1942.
Ripe apples, waxy cheese and iced tea
scented the air
during a rare respite in wartime Washington, D.C.
The next breath
recalls the Union soldiers
who tramped through the light woods
toward nearby Virginia Seminary,
now a hospital for the wounded.
the earth protects a shell necklace
dropped 400 years ago
by a noble Algonquian.
Living in harmony
with mother earth,
the Algonquian understood
we are all visitors here.