May-Day

 

MAY-DAY IN THE COUNTRY

An ekphrastic poem referencing “May-Day in the Country” by Winslow Homer for Harper’s Weekly (1859).

artist   draw the scene you see today
show readers far and wide this sweetest life

the joys of spring   its promises to come

with winter gone and summer on its way

the children pick bouquets and hand them ‘round

the sternest men snatch blossoms from the trees

lovers ride off to savor their joys now

look    that horse is holding back a smile

but you don’t see the future these woods hold

three years from now you will be here again

you’ll draw these prancing horses blown apart

those trees in shreds from bursting cannon balls

that rider on the ground without a leg

that dandy with a bullet through his heart

the grass they play on soaked with soldiers’ blood

artist   draw the scene you see today

like Fragonard a century ago

you show a world that never will return

victim of the war that tears us still