Two Civil War Poems
As the sun rises
soldiers stifle breath
a church hiding sharpshooters
Under the sun’s glare
three-thousand fall in twenty minutes
dead lie “like the ties of a railroad”
As the sun lowers
over twenty-thousand groan or speak no more
men stare into the fire-
yet another force which destroys with little warning, no regret
So, this is war, they think,
if they hadn’t thought so before
“We cannot consecrate this ground.”
But we try:
a thousand statues sculpted
by the most skilled men in our age,
a dozen glass cases with the weapons,
a guided tour of the grounds
where fifty-thousand men died.
In three days.
In this small space.
Bodies must have been stacked
like decks of cards
on roads where we’re now bumper to bumper.
Maybe through our presence
in recognition of their absence
we’ll see the atrocities of war.
But probably not.