Once upon a time there was a man who was alive.

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
St. Cuthbert and Disciples in a Boat


Julius Yarezky, Originally of Poland But Later of Shuqualak, Mississippi: Postwar

A Dialogue in Two Parts


Julius Yarezky: Once we climbed the white stone
All slick, slipping by the Noxubee
And above the trees sleeping at the riverside
We rested, held our vigil on the
Lilting lightly brown brimming water.
Do you remember that day?
(I did not forget.)

His Son: There are many things I’ve forgotten.
That was many years past, I guess.
So much distance, time, in the

Julius: Well.
Much, so much, I would forget
Other things (not that time though, there and then)
But the worst too deeply ingrain
I would speak them up but for
All the things broken loose when they’re released.
When the way is ash
It filters through your clothes
Clogs up your nose and
Fills in the spaces left void.
No matter how hard you shake your shoes
And clap your hands around again.
All the distances: oceans crossed, of water and blood
Come clinging hard and deep.


(Interlude. Julius remains in Shuqualak; his son is away at school again; his son writes to him.)

Son: Father:
The text alone
Unfleshed and unsouled
(In the space beyond the reckoning)
Only carries through so far
And though we lift aloft the word
It is only more than page when it becomes spoken
When it finds its locus in the known
In some inner, selfsame connection.
That leads me to this:
What can you tell
Me of the War lately passed?

Julius: If I could embrace you
And breathe in the memory
Call to you the terror and the flame
The faces of the dead and the final stillness-
All things these words fall flat on-
Certainly you would recoil
And fear for your own father,
For the things I’ve done, seen, hated.
It was
An awful thing, my son, that war: all wars-
And I charge you this, short of my
Skill to speak these things:
I charge you:
(Write this also upon your brow)
Do not be beguiled by the flash of sword
Clash of spurs and guns rimrods clinging-
Dead men speaking’s heroics
Flee fast those things and say:
My father has felt that way forward
And stumbled through its night.
No, nothing really ever passes.
The ash is still clinging.

{Julius Yarezky was a Polish Jewish immigrant to America who settled in Shuqualak, MS, sometime before the Civil Warand gradually rose in society from his initial occupation as a scrap-collector and peddlar. During the war he served with distinction in the Confederate army, and after it he was a fairly well-off and prominent citizen of Shuqualak (which is also my hometown of sorts), even being elected mayor. His son went to boarding school after the death of Mrs Yarezky (whom Julius had met outside of Meridian while Sherman was razing that town in 1864); at some point he wrote to his father asking about the war. I don't have the full text of Mr Yarezky's response but I incorporated the sentiments somewhat here.}


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