“Medical Tent”

by Carol Dine

-after a photograph in the Lang collection, 1916

The white of the nurses’ uniforms,
the white of the bandages
over soldiers’ head wounds,
slings cradling their arms.

The ground is littered
with boot prints,
shadows of bloodied leaves.

Seated on a low wooden bench,
faces blurred,
the men turn to each other.

Behind them,
a web of strings
affixes the massive tent

like one in a travelling circus
they might have seen
when they were boys.