The Blur in the Photograph

The Blur in the Photograph
© Anne Hills

My sister stands beside me, her hair is tied in rags
My father stands behind her with his hand upon her head
Behind them there’s a lean-to shack
A mule with a worried back
The Union boys will soon attack
we’re smiling
I’m bouncing on my mother’s knee
I can’t see you, you can’t see me

The blur in the photograph
The face lost in history
Not quite still
where I should be

I’m standing by a line of cannons listening for the call
The row on row of wooden wheels have crushed the leaves of fall
The air is crisp and clear and bright
it’s a perfect day to win a fight
And God in heaven knows we’re right
to kill here.
I’m moving as the shutter flies
My image shifts before your eyes

My brothers lie around me, on this broken, bloody field
Their empty eyes all staring and their uniforms all torn
I’m wounded but I am not dead
I hear a voice and turn my head
Recalling how my mother said
“I love you.”
I’ll not see her, she’ll not see me
I’m trapped in tin-type mystery