And then He told us we could go home,
that the war was over.

At first, I didn't believe it, proud,
that I had lasted these four years
of a marching hell,

numb to the idea of defeat,
guilty, perhaps, I was left alive,
for so many had given their last full measure

in places I cannot recall for the life of me
this morning, my bedroll is curved along my back,
my haversack has some dried corn,
and one rotting apple,

the coffee smells might good,
there is a dangerous rumor we might even have
the gift of sugar,
a thank you for a widowed bride of the now
forgotten fallen,

how quickly the names run together,
my mind has merged them all into a universal face

of eternity death mask,

but I am going home,

and that is sufficient enough
for the daylight musket call,

for few names will answer this morning,
as God walks among us,

selecting those good enough
for heaven's swinging door.

Yet, Why was I selected among the hundreds of
thousands before me,

you brought with you your heaven,
for when I bled, you changed my bandage,
when I was thirsty, you gave me drank,
when I was hungry, you offered up half your jerky,

when I cried, you sat beside me with your
harmonica, playing me one final tune

and when I died,
you found me in the faces of all of me,

alone, and crying out no more.

Copyright, William "Wild Bill" Taylor, September, 2003
To contact William with comments