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Redcoat Retreat Staten Island

"The dubious distinction of being the last place from which His Majesties troops embarked belongs to Staten Island. " --Clute

They withdraw
sailing through the Narrows
on ships laboring
under the burden of their defeat.

Staten Island taunts them
from the heights of the Narrows;
men and women line the shore
stand atop hills and rocks
bid them farewell with a
colonial flip of a tricorn bird.

Irritated beyond endurance,
British leave the green jewel --
leave their seed in the bellies
of the enemy bound to the island
by shame.

Beneath the tulip trees, red-coated babies
look toward the harbor;
girls forlorn and forsaken stare red into white;
the ground vibrates with the last shot fired
by lovers or rapists
discharged from ship's cannons
England bound.

But taunting fathers and brothers
have only muskets,
so they run through the trees, over the hills
to the cradle of the island.

The last shot fired
in the American Revolution
echoes through the harbor still.
The Narrows still reports it,
the island hills remember it,
the harbor winds capture it.
It abides in the DNA dust
of Staten Island graveyards,
overgrown, overplowed,
overdeveloped and forgotten.

---Marguerite M. Rivas

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