Lincoln Descants

lincoln sign

Smolder in the Marble

his hands
at the memorial
are rumored signing
his initials…how crass
how uncomprehending
is his sculptor to imply
such conceited vanity

so out of touch
with that great man
who smolders in the marble
gaunt framed, grim,
with those famous hands
tense primed to intent,
hard work knuckled…swollen
from a thousand signings
and the wrestling
with a nation
* * * * *


There is a gray quilted lining
for his black wool greatcoat
where an emblematic eagle
spreads defensive wings
as from its beak furl two banners:
“One Country”…”One Destiny.”

Yes…it is that greatcoat
the one he wore that night…
that awful night.

As he occasionally laughed
at the comedy below,
he became distracted
by a sudden chill.

He retrieved that greatcoat
to chase the cold away,
wrapping his tall spare frame
in the eagle and the banners.

Then oblivion of mind
while his strong heart kept beating
beneath the useless warmth
where an eagle spread its wings
above one country…one destiny.

* * * * *

lincoln  5 65

The Gaze

the gaze…
the penetrating awareness
the importance of the moment
for he still held his glasses…a pencil
to stay his body for a camera shot
just as if he knew…he knew
this picture would be the forever
look at us…at us…years to future
as if to say… this… is who I am


Bonnie Marshall

Photo Credits:
The Gaze: Photographer, Alexander Gardner, February 5, 1865
Greatcoat: National Park Services, Ford’s Theater Lincoln Museum
Smolder in the Marble: Sculptor/Designer, Alexander Chester French



6 thoughts on “Lincoln Descants

  1. A great sequence about a great man; the eagle imagery, in particular, lives on its own, apart from officialdom … everyone, i think, from all nations, know, he stood for us.

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