[A] 150-year-old map depicts the Battle. . .not with the usual scenes of charge and counter-charge, but as one vast cemetery. — Washington Post (2020)
Stretched in ranks
like nervous enfilades
the sunken mounds, square-cornered,
to the verges of
Here they sprawled
prone by their batteries
on the slopes of breastworks
splatted by long-range artillery.
Before extraction from shallow
scraped holes for re-burial
of blood, loud-swarming bottleflies,
crows picking at eyes and rubbery
innards, were turned to words.
The day was crisp when Simon
coming after made his map:
sailing past, a brilliant arc
of gray and blue — indifferent breeze
stirring stubble, dry grass,
black shutters on that ball-pocked
of tacked foolscap while he inked.
He called it “Battle Field,” although
the tiny dark-brown oblongs
that he drew and drew
are wounds in a terrain
that scars us still.
Michael H. Levin is a lawyer, solar energy developer and writer based in Washington DC. His work has appeared on stage and in chapbooks, anthologies and numerous periodicals, and has received poetry and feature journalism awards. See www.michaellevinpoetry.com