poetry quarterly

10th anniversary

MAPPING THE CITY: DC Places, Part II

David Keplinger

 


VISTING THE NATIONAL GALLERY
WHILE THE COUNTRY IS AT WAR

I come across a photograph by Lewis Hine
from 1917, a soldier being thrown
into the air within a circle
of his buddy-boys: and only
the soldier who seems to float
is expressionless, is making great effort
to stay floating like that through the war’s
duration and into the next and the one
that will come after. Or is he arriving
from the trenches of the dead
like Theseus who came back mute his
faith his courage strangled, and now his hands
about to touch their faces, his head as calm
as photographs I can’t forget I saw
of people flying from the tower. His torso
and his boots hang parallel with camp
which they have set up somewhere
for the training, the tents triangular
as hats, the hats the buddy boys
are wearing, wagging, elated
that he’s come. Let’s anchor him let’s
drag him back to earth he is our lost kite.
Let’s grab him while we can, a cartoon
cat who ate a bird that will not quite go down.

 


David Keplinger directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at American University. His latest book, The Prayers of Others, won the Colorado Book Award in 2007.

 

Published in Volume 11, Number 4, Fall 2010.

 

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David Keplinger