The first iconic photograph of war
was Roger Fenton's moonscape from Crimea.
We see a path and plain and little more;
no dead nor signs of death, or life, appear.

We know, as shocked Victorians could not:
the barren, shell-shorn ground resembles Mars,
but for a galaxy of large round shot
that sprawls to the horizon, thick as stars.

For all the emptiness the camera showed,
for years we've argued and researched the claim
that cannonballs were set out on the road,
as if to make the wasteland seem less tame.

At last, we've proved some were. Could one contrive
a better metaphor? The conscience palls
at what we've learned since 1855
of war and misplaced focus, which is . . . Balls.