I'm not ashes or trees or stars,
not any of these rock markers
here in this stone forest
you call a cemetery,
all of them squares
where people still write
their names on walls
thinking they'll be remembered
in a mason's chisel.
Some were rich, BIG stones, marble,
some poor, small, granite,
some soldiers, like me, GI slabs.
I heard everything you said—
the funeral—everything everybody said—
words, maybe arranged
differently, but the same—words,
time and times again, and before. I heard
the music, songs I liked.
Funny how it drifts up
into the sky and you aren't sure
you even heard it when it dies.
"Like the first Morning."
I'm not any of the persons
you thought I was. I'm not
even sure who I was. Most
people don't even bother to ask soldiers.
Like the music, though, I'll stay
with you a while, in little things,
when you swipe your card
or stand in a line and wait
or punch one for English
and two for something else.
But slowly, slowly like the voice
the guitarist pushed out against
the pine trees on the hillside, sad but beautiful,
toward a hundred people he didn't know
and wondered, could they hear?
were they used to some other kind of music
at a funeral? I'll fade. For I was different,
too. So this was right. This gathering.
What I would have wanted.
My friends, teachers, troopers, family,
said I had a sense of humor.
How funny is this? I would ask,
if I were here. But I'm not afraid. I've gone
where everyone else is afraid to go.
Think of me, small, growing smaller,
but growing, somehow, always growing.
So glad to have been here, so sad to leave.
But wanting to go on and search and seek.
Eighteen years, eight and one make nine,
and one more, you whom I love, make ten, metric!
think hundreds, think thousands, a force,
bright spots. Me. Different from all the rest.