Friday, November 2, 2012

Mirror of War, May 1962

"I am more than ever convinced . . . that people are born old and . . . that disenchantment is more a beginning than an end in itself. I think life has absolutely to be lived backwards and there is no convenient shortcut like forwards" Diane Arbus (in Revelatons, p. 165).

Walk for Peace" seven hundred miles.
In the seventh week, the thirteen
crossing Woodbury, New Jersey,
look like hands linked across the hills
in a fourteenth-century plague allegory
from an image in Bergman’s Seventh Seal.
Home from Crusades, a knight plays chess
with the Black Death to win his life.
He can do no more than delay endgame.
A traveling troupe performs for the doomed.

Silhouettes of eight dark bodies
in flowing capes, hats and dresses
lead one another single file
across the long field. In the light
vanishing below the night sky
weeds rise close up as high as signs
against war shaped in triangles,
circles, squares in the hands of three
you see, one or two out of sight
where land sinks below horizon.

Diane Arbus shoots her photo
in a wan light. She’s on the other side
of war's mirror. If she were your sister
you would never have turned from her
or thought to abandon your native land.
Why else risk your life than fight against death
you can never see coming, whose image
shares nothing with nonviolence,
the only weapon in this world
where they who win will also die.

(2-3 November 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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