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From a Photographer's War Journal

It’s the work of the lens,
to focus its gaze and find the proper angle
for impact, clarity; to show from its own perspective
the body of a child wrapped in a garment
of pleated flesh, held gently in his mother’s arms
as though she could lift him out of it and run
from the scourge of that landscape,
the lash of its tongue, its voice. To explain
that image, a split-second paralysis
that is forever fixed in the mind, forever mute,
itself a bystander hovering over the children
torn from the hand so tightly held,
maimed and killed in the presence of their mothers.

There is the sense of one moment,
immortal, held still in one shot, one frame;
a strobe of light that is visible, and yet invisible:
warlords, militant machinery, the blazing turrets
of an uprising when well-fed armies tear
into the city like hungry vagrants
tearing the gutters for meat. There’s an old wagon,
its wheels turned inward, rocking slowly
at each stop to pile a sackcloth of children’s bones
into a conveyance of silent darkness. And yet
it’s always the negative we hold to the light for clarity,
for meaning, as if we’ve missed some point of view,
as if in that frame transposing light and dark,
there’s an image we hope to see more clearly.

Submitted: Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Edited: Saturday, April 16, 2011


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Comments about this poem (When We Haven't Said Goodbye by Joanne Monte )

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  • marvin brato (1/20/2014 3:07:00 PM)

    Life is a picture, its beauty is captured depending on how we discern it and take its view on our personal lens! Thanks.

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