Volume 29, Number 3

Veteran Monument Restored

No one can imagine how
His stone hands move,
Or knows if his chest rises and falls,
Or—if he is rendered to such detail—
His eyelids flutter, his vision tracks.
Many have seen him shuffle,
Touch his hat in respect. If

He eats, he does so out of sight.
Repair for him would be mortar
And rock, but there has to be something
Fueling him. What if he is only the first?
One can comfortably be labeled a miracle,
A thousand bursting from pedestals,
Dragging out of cemeteries, leaping
From the corners of buildings, would be
A pestilence. There would be so many things

We would need to know about them:
Them, another complication in a life
That will not hold still, stay flat,
Or listen to reason. I’m sure his
Sculptured rifle will not fire, and no one
Has ever seen it drawn from his shoulder.

There must be a purpose in his sudden
Animation. Most people believe
These days that anything extraordinary
Is an undertaking of hidden rationality.

One day

Someone is going to inspect him close enough
To determine which army he memorializes:
Union, Confederate, Continental, Dough-Boy.
Facts like that have a habit of living on,
Becoming in their way public liabilities.
It could matter when the novelty wears off.

—Ken Poyner