Civil War Officers

Standing tall, five officers,
Wearing clean, Union dress blues,
Polished brass buttons–
Gleaming in invisible sun,
Pose as if pioneering Matthew Brady,
Daguerreotype camera ready,
Long before selfies are a concept,
Prepares to capture for posterity,
A time we need to remember.
Frameless, in a display case tucked tight,
Against a gallery wall,
This painting is preserved
For us to see scores of years later
Because this war, like all since,
Needs to be remembered.
Near Lincoln's bronze bust,
Left of fellow soldiers painted
Into Homer's Skirmish in the Wilderness,
One mustached soldier, arms crossed
In this canvas, forage cap on still head,
Stares directly toward the camera,
While another, perhaps of highest rank,
Faces forward, scabbard hanging, waist high.
Three others, all bearded,
Heads in forage caps, too,
Stand behind, their faces angled somewhat
As the camera, like a bugle, calls,
Their attention torn between Battlefield fray, lens, and history.

This poem is in response to the art of John R. McDermott, on display at the New Britain (CT) Museum of Art.

Photo credit: Ed Dzitko