Gravediggers (Dedicated To Carl Sandburg)

We are gravediggers
humming hymns while we work,
shovelfuls of silence
packing thickly the honorable dead,
embedding them
in the becalming bosom of the earth.
We put to bed those whose lives
have ceased in sudden violence,
whose harrowing finality
deserves the requiem
of hallowed ground
and gentle voices;
we tuck them in tenderly
as mournful mothers would
the sons who have paid
such sacrifice.
Listen to the soft rain of soil
as it reclaims such sons
born of mortal clay.
Some were believers,
some were not,
yet all are united in the esteem
and the debt
owed to them by the people they served.
Beneath rolling blankets of grass
they rest in reverence,
and we, the gravediggers,
the oarsmen,
the ferrymen,
paddle them to calmer shores
with our soothing shovels—
we sacrifice a few hours
for their sacrifice of many years,
hoping they find the peace
beyond a war-torn foreign land
crazed with the cacophony of
salvoes and cavalcades,
maddened with fretful waiting;
listen to the rhythmic lullaby
of our shovels
and know Charon’s song
toward restive sleep.
We are the gravediggers.
be at peace.

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