JULY 11, 1864
#[on a photograph discovered
#in the archives of the
#Coast Guard Academy, 1987]

In this photograph,
a tall thin man
in a stovepipe hat
stands on a cutter's deck,
his features too indistinct
to tell who it is for sure.
Behind him, the presence
of men we can identify —
Seward and Captain White —
means this must be Lincoln.

History happens this way:
the rebel general
Jubal Early is on the verge
of taking Washington;
gunfire rings from orchards
near the capitol.
A photographer calls for stillness
but this dark figure,
tired in his bones,
is listening to water slap
beneath the boat, remembering
a boy who never knew retreat,
who knew a better way
to spend a summer afternoon.
Someone repeats, "Mr. President,"
and as he turns, casting about
for someone to save,
the reflection of his face
blurs in the river like some-
thing seen through tears.

# # # #