Elegy for the Native Guards

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Elegy for the Native Guards

by Natasha Trethewey
Southern Cultures, Vol. 19, No. 3: Civil War

". . . 2nd Regiment, Union men, black phalanx. What is monument to their legacy?"

Now that the salt of their blood
Stiffens the saltier oblivion of the sea . . .
—Allen Tate

We leave Gulfport at noon; gulls overhead
trailing the boat—streamers, noisy fanfare—
all the way to Ship Island. What we see
first is the fort, its roof of grass, a lee—
half reminder of the men who served there—
a weathered monument to some of the dead.