the eighty-two year old man
with the chalky white skin
and the permanently folded hands
lying in the casket
was the only one to know
the true reality at hand
his ability to see, no longer blinded
by his eyes, and other senses
his mind no longer gets in the way of his spirit
which waited all these years for release
he sees, in a different way, the shadowy figures
lurking, and flying about the room
like ancient winged creatures
right out of the alchemists’ Rosarium philosophorum
visitors paying last respects pour into the room
the shadowy figures multiple in number
like a mushrooming chorus
singing one familiar song after another
like the song of the children
where sons and daughters stand over their dad’s body
crying to be held just one more time
like the song of the grandchildren
wishing one more visit
to get to know the father of their parents
like the song of the wife
begging her husband to return to their bed
that tonight she might not sleep alone
there are no brothers or sisters
so this song, for now, goes unsung
then, the song of the friends, mostly older
streaming past the open casket, offering prayers
wondering when their time will come
among them, the man’s veteran friends
who sing the final song, the soldier’s song
reminding all of death’s disinterested stare
tears fill every eye in the room
as the haunting sound of taps
washes into the parlor
bringing with it
a legion of uniformed men
young and old
not from just one war, but all wars
one by one, they march past the casket
and with their voices lift up the man
and take him home
In Memory of Marie’s Father, Jack Keck
12 thoughts on “A Soldier’s Last Songs”
i love this poem. Its absolutely beautiful, but yet sad at the same time. its very amazing. your a wonderful writer && this came from the heart i can tell.
Thanks Kai. Hope you are well.
Andrew: Thanks for sharing. These experiences last upon you, so to speak.
I really like this one — my Grandfather, who died at 80, years ago, was a WWII vet. and the flag was given to my Grandmother. For that moment there was so much finality – hard to describe. I was one of the paulbearers and it was a true honor.
Rax: Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it.
wow. yes a lovely and powerfully moving memorial.
Thanks Polona. Glad you liked it.
beautiful and poignant. love it
Thanks Pat. Good to see you out and about.
Dan, as always. Thank you, brother.
Aurora: Thanks. Loved your word choice. Priceless.
Appropriately and solemnly dignified.
I second the emotion!
WOW!! Don, as beautiful a memorial as ever I’ve read,