Joanne Lowery


It must have taken hours to bring them
to this January woods, set one behind
each tree: yellow, blue and rose lamps

lighting brown, black and gray silhouettes
like tall soldiers. And their guns, their bayonets
and the colors of their dying.

But first this bloom across snow
this flush on the dried prairie,
cider spraying the air.

Together their fires burn low,
smoke darkening glass shades,
each wick adding an inch of coal

while the miraculous colors rise
into heavenly battlegrounds
lined with pastel armies.

One by one the lamps retreat
from hickory, oak and maple
from raspberry, peach and plum

from oil, kerosene and wax
from clover, buttercup and violet
to calico, leather and wool.

The world is a cold room
crowded with dead soldiers.
It is hard to see their faces.


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