Absent Without Leave

Angela killed herself in her basement.
The non-crime scene photos held an abusive beauty
that should have their own exhibition at the museum,
like Gardner’s and Gibson’s The Dead at Antietam.

It was the same rope her mother used
to commit the same self-violence fifty years before,
saved these countless days of desolation and depression,
a memento hidden from family and friends.

Why is peace so hard to find?
Why is God said to condemn those who choose it?
Why is the white daisy in her lapel?
Why does the world blur at this Angela memory?

Now is the time to get well. Today, damn it!
As if mending from the doorway revelation
is as easy as bending to the street to pick up a lucky penny.
Such orders seem to find the soldier AWOL.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


“The Dead at Antietam” was a the first ever museum exhibition of war photographs. Gardner and Gibson were field photographers for the Brady studio in New York city. They arrived on the Antietam battlefield two to three days after the fighting before much of the carnage had be cleaned up. Many of the photos may be found at this portion of Time’s website.

I was not the person who walked in to find Angela. I am thankful for that fact.

I think people have only so much capacity to process the difficulties of life and that suicide should not be a crime or a moral black mark against the person. A person reaches a point and breaks, like a tree limb in a wind storm. Too much too quickly is the usually way. Or lack of supporting cast of friends and confidants.

Love & Light


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