I held it out and Caleb took it. This was the first book he had held in his hands. He made me smile, opening it upside down and back to front, but he touched the pages with the utmost care, as if gentling some fragile-boned wild thing. The godliest among us did not touch the Bible with such reverence as he showed to that small book.
I wonder where he lies. Wedged under a rock, with a thousand small mouths already sucking on his spongy flesh. Or floating still, on and down, on and down, to wider, calmer reaches of the river. I see them gathering: the drowned, the shot. Their hands float out to touch each other, fingertip to fingertip. In a day, two days, they will glide on, a funeral flotilla, past the unfinished white dome rising out of its scaffolds on a muddy hill in Washington. Will the citizens recognize them, the brave fallen, and uncover in a gesture of respect? Or will they turn away, disgusted by the bloated mass of human rot?
Are there any two words in all of the English language more closely twinned than courage and cowardice? I do not think there is a man alive who will not yearn to possess the former and dread to be accused of the latter. One is held to be the apogee of man's character, the other its nadir. An yet, to me the two sit side by side on the circle of life, removed from each other by the merest degree of arc. (MARCH - Chapter 11 - page 168)
I reached for her, pushing back the fall of hair-it was heavy and thick and smooth to the touch-and tilted her chin so that the moonlight shone on her wet face. We married each other that night, there on a bed of fallen pine needles-even today, the scent of pitch-pine stirs me-with Henry's distant flute for a wedding march and the arching white birch boughs for our basilica. At first, she quivered like an aspen, and I was ashamed at my lack of continence, yet I could not let go of her. I felt like Peleus on the beach, clinging to Thetis, only to find that, suddenly, it was she who held me; that same furnace in her nature that had flared up in anger blazed again, in passion.
Strip by strip the lash carved into Grace's shuddering flesh. My tears were falling by then, heavy drops, joining in the leaf dust with the blood that had begun to trickle from the table. My limbs were so weak that I could not even raise a hand to wipe the mucus that dripped from my nose. She had been lying with her head faced away from me. She lifted it then, and turned, so that we looked at one another. If an anvil had fallen from the sky at that moment and landed upon me, I could not have felt more crushed.(pg 39)