On the death of a soldier

James Graham

Make no mistake: he is dead. He does not sleep.
There is no whisper in his brain. There is nothing
in his chemistry that can say, "I am cold."
No part of him is alive now, either here
or in a place of angels. He will decay.
The world has ended. The cosmos has collapsed
into a singularity. Traffic is passing on the road,
a blackbird sings, a frog leaps somewhere, tourists
are visiting the Taj Mahal, but the world has ended.
If God would send his Minister of State, to give us
the co-ordinates of heaven, if we could send
a party of detached observers on a preview tour
(sales pitch and brochures will not do); if then

His Excellency would put a human soul
on public view, explain and demonstrate
the method of its separation from the corpse,
and its means of transportation to eternity,

then we would know for sure: would know a man
whose entrails had been scattered on the earth
would be restored and counseled, and be happy.

Then making garbage of young men would not
be a kinder act, but there would be recompense.
The years they never knew, the loves they never gave,
would matter less. It would matter less that they
could not be engineers, or doctors, or play golf,
or father laughing babies. To put it differently:

until God's envoy makes his case, and answers
all our questions, do not kill. Work against death.
Watch over life. Assume there is no other.