Michael H. Levin: Poems and Prose
[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,
march through cornfields
to the verges of
Here they lay
sprawled 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.
Version first published in The Raven's Perch (Dec. 1, 2020)