After the Civil War, a Greenhouse Built from Images of the Dead*

by Stella Reed 

 

Gleaned from battlefield. See fade. See shutter as relic. Black cloth. Wisp. Tendril.
Lash. The stain that used to breathe.

Spirits sink into loam, nutrients propelled by winged seed breath makes scatter, foot
makes stay, ant to carry.

Root. There is song to candle the hunger. There is night to balm. Chestnut burs akin
to memory, hemp or marigold.

Captured face, stance, sprawl, uniform, brother, no sister, husband, no wife, father,
no smile no movement before or after flash burnt resemblance to glass. The deepest
way to ghost. Who might you.

 

*It has been claimed that the glass plate negatives of some of Civil War photographer Mather Brady’s lost images were sold to gardeners who used them after the war to build greenhouses. In the years that followed the end of the war, the sun slowly burned away the images.


STELLA REED is from Santa Fe, NM. She is a teacher with the WingSpan Poetry Project bringing poetry classes to residents in domestic violence and homeless shelters in Santa Fe. You can find her poems in the Taos International Journal of Poetry and Art, Slipstream, and the American Journal of Poetry among other literary journals. Stella is a Pushcart Prize nominee and a winner of the D.H. Lawrence prize for fiction as well as a grant from the New Mexico Literary Arts Society for the poetry and visual arts project Ordinary Cloth, the Secret Language of Women. She holds an MFA from New England College where she was awarded the Joel Oppenheimer scholarship.

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