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JEAN HULL HERMAN
The Berlin Pieta
The Soldier's Mother Finds Him on the Battlefield
V-E Day, 1995
It was a quickly-shot panorama of the battlefield,
the camera held by someone dispassionate,
A man who could look upon corpses in snow and not shake.
As the lens moved, he viewed frozen bodies, fragmented and whole,
Black-and-white shambles sprawled easily upon each other in the frozen mud.
A woman was there at the battlefield, grayish wrap covering her head,
Featureless coat pulled close, her keening back to the photographer.
She knelt next to the corpse of a young man thrown face down in the mud,
Uniform neat across his back,
his trousers too dark for anything but wounds and blood.
She sat by his head, weeping, and it broke my heart to see her
As she leaned to pat her boy's shoulder, to soothe his fright, now long-gone,
To comfort her baby by patting him as every mother will, saying,
"Lie still now. Mother's here."
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