war, as I saw it yesterday

The plane taxied in to the salute of a line of firefighters, police officers, and military personnel. Six uniformed soldiers bore the casket from the cargo hold. The ceremony seemed like a thing that should be witnessed, but then the clean, orderly presence of the non-civilians only made the family look that much smaller, more bewildered, unprepared. They were tagged onto this line of even-spaced salutes in a hunched-over heap. They leaned on each other and looked around, children on an unfamiliar stage, floundering against a wind. When the parents came; when they touched the casket; when they stayed, kept touching, trying to see their son beneath the flag; I turned away, praying flailing prayers, and tried to face my easy life.

He came home, first off my plane
to the ceremony of fellow servicemen and the welcome of family
in a flag-draped box
It is old men who send young men to war
Rich men who send poor men to war
Who send dress blues for one who died in fatigues
Who surround him with family, in reward for last moments alone
Alone a globe away
He finally got out.

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