A Side of Iron

Priceless, bought in dear blood and time,

Saturated through with old heroic deeds.

The grain rough and frayed at both ends,

Like the ragged fibers of old hempen line.

What kind of wood remains a mystery,

Red in hue and perhaps akin to the clay

Of Georgia where it could have been born.

On a weathered side a coat of white paint.

God only knows who's fingers touched it,

Maybe Preble or Decatur themselves.

Preserved for centuries in its airtight case,

None worthy to hold it in their bare hand.

How many oceans it knew blows the mind.

Undoubtedly round the stormy Cape Horn,

Across the far glittering waters of the Pacific,

Off Tripoli and opposite Java or Guerriere.

How did this sacred side of iron come to be?

A souvenir carved out by a proud iron man?

Chipped off in battle defending her namesake?

Regardless, it is cherished like a priceless urn.

Tis more than a fragment of our forgotten past,

Rather a piece of hard won freedom forged in war.

Life and liberty secured by courageous patriots,

Their only defense against death that side of iron.

Our future exists as long as the side of iron lives.

Both this vessel and document now old, forgotten,

On the brink of lost tatters in the hands of today,

An ignorant, selfish, and disrespectful generation.

Those who forged these things two centuries ago

Are surely turning over in their unattended graves.

True patriots now as much an uncared for fragment

Of something as old and forgotten as they are today.