This week I’ll be publishing daily poems written in response to photographs from E.O. Hoppe’s Amerika: Modernist Photographs from the 1920s (2007, ed. Phillip Prodger). Some of these I may compile into a manuscript (tentatively: Amerika 1926). This is poem #3.
Cemetery, Fredericksburg, Virginia
A soldier, complete, his rifle in front of him, oversees a garden
of plain tombstones. The empty pastures await the next century.
What is it we memorialize? It’s not missing limbs.
It’s not a bullet through the head. It’s not watching a man die.
There is not a single war that’s spared the life of the next soldier,
only decided the next battlefield on which he’ll lie.
What a great and noble thing it is to be torn to pieces.