Photographers Of War, 2022

by Idris Anderson

         —for Lynsey Addario and Tyler Hicks


You take what you’ve seen and see again.
  Child in the rubble, her doll’s arm dangling.
Each morning I look at what you’ve exposed.

Under the wavering shadows of winter trees,
  woman on a stretcher, glass flecks of blood
on her head and arm, hand on her unborn child,

they will die tomorrow, in tomorrow’s newspaper.
  Old men fill bottles with petrol. Stacked crates.
Grandsons carry grandmothers in chairs

over planks over a swift river, steady, unsteady,
   rebar and broken concrete bridge in the background
deliberately exploded—so tanks can’t enter

the city. Textures. Complexities. Soldier with green
  cylindrical bomb on his back closes in on a convoy.
A single frame captures devastation, emotions draining,

drained from the faces. Click. Upload. Send.
   Your images on this screen in my lap
in my living room. Creased faces glare at me.

There is no moral equivalent for what you do
  in smoke and dust, the cold heat of war, its un-
breathe-ability, the immorality you step steadily

into, your clear views of ego’s darkest heart,
the blood of Abel, the mark of Cain.

Idris Anderson’s collection of poems Doubtful Harbor (Ohio UP) was selected by Sherod Santos for the Hollis Summers Prize. Her first collection of poems Mrs. Ramsay's Knee (Utah State UP) was selected by Harold Bloom for the May Swenson Poetry Award. She has won a Pushcart and a Pushcart Special Mention. Her poems have appeared in AGNI, Crab Orchard Review, Hudson Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, Paris Review, Plume, Scoundrel Time, Southern Review, and others. She was born and grew up in Charleston, SC, but has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than two decades.