For a fallen soldier
Today, two gray ministers meet a body,
go before it, sing or say some pale business
about our utterly solitary passage in and out of life,
during which we may resolutely bless the Lord
and, after a while, simply resurrect.
Today, well-meaning ministers speak some truth
to a hollow congregation sick of death.
In a plain chapel with no more kneeling room,
the unpracticed will oblige and recite wisdom:
first “Let us count our days aright” and then
“Help us want your ever-present hope.” But today
I’m in the woods, where the usual corruption
seems a little more corrupt than before:
ants smell and swarm a single worm,
a blue jay chases from her nest two black crows,
rattlesnakes follow a trodden path and hide to strike
when the trespasser recrosses his log.
And the red-cockaded woodpecker grays her longleaf,
releasing sap so rat snakes seeking her young
will crawl back down or else fall off,
retreat to the ancient groundcover, waiting for fire.
About the Author
Jennifer Strange’s work has appeared in the Oxford American, Christianity and Literature, Rock and Sling, The Southern Poetry Anthology, and the Art House America blog, where she serves as assistant editor. She has a husband and, because of their three sons, has recently acquired expertise in how to manage a carpool lane.