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.