Meeting the British
© By Paul Muldoon
We met the British in the dead of winter.
The sky was lavender
and the snow lavender-blue.
I could hear, far below,
the sound of tow streams coming together
(both were frozen over)
and, no less strange,
myself calling out in French
across that forest-
clearing. Neither General Jeffrey Amherst
nor Colonel Henry Bouquet
could stomach our willow-tobacco.
As for the unusual
scent when the Colonel shook out his hand-
kerchief: ‘C’est la lavande,
une fleur mauve comme le ciel.’
They gave us six fishhooks
and two blankets embroidered with smallpox.
© Paul Muldoon, permissons Faber & Faber Ltd.
Paul Muldoon’s poem recalls the French and British wars against the native Americans.