Cemetery, Fredericksburg, Virginia (from Amerika 1926)


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.

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Cemetery, Fredericksburg, Virginia, 1926 by E.O. Hoppe

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.

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