Lieutenant Paul Carrington Venable KIA 7-18-18
WWI: you fought in the Battle of Soissons, France,
allies vs. Germans. July 18–22, 1918.
I see the terrors of mucky trenches—barbed-wire fences—
sniper crosshairs—German Maschinengewehrs on sledge mounts
blasting 500 rounds a minute—shells exploding mud and limbs
in shocking arcs—bayonet charges through salvos of bullets—
pineapple and stick grenades blasting shrapnel—
which one was yours?
107,000 allied casualties / 168,000 German casualties
All I know is 99 years later
you were killed the 18th of July…
not which hour not how not even why—
my great uncle.
I study your black and white snapshot
dressed in Khaki wool uniform,
wearing your Tan Campaign Hat,
postmarked June 1918.
Why do I miss someone
in a photograph
I never knew?