Valley Forge

by Eric Chaet

Valley Forge is where Washington
& his little band of revolutionary soldiers
huddled in cold, hunger, & illness
because they weren’t strong enough
to confront British forces arrayed against them
until they were strong enough—
strength is not merely physical—
& defeated the British.

I realize that their cause
might not have been sufficient
to justify killing & risking being killed
& the collateral damage all around them
to those whose ruling commitment
was to their own survival or integrity or gain
& that the mythology of the revolution & its consequences
is very different from the reality
that manages to peek thru some of the histories
& events we can’t deny
that force us, over & over
to reconsider what we have allowed ourselves to expect.

But I learn what I can
that I may be able to put to use—
surviving, & changing the world forever for better
always myself first
slightly, or more than slightly
not merely deluding myself
that that’s what I’m doing—
from those in positions analogous to mine
from all times & places
in this way or that—
& separate as best I can
true from false, wise from foolish—
from those with noble & sensibly evaluated aims
& from those with the basest aims
& the most deluded ways of evaluating—
whose behavior I find otherwise abhorrent.



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