The corpse returned from war in parts, so six soldiers now appeared, jaws like fronts of trucks, determined to portray their faith in things they thought they ought to think were just.
In unison they marched, in unison they stopped, presented arms, threw back the bolts, looked down, looked up, threw home the bolts, upraised their rifles, fired as one a single shot, right—shouldered arms, turned right, marched back five paces. Then two of them quickly whirled about, approached the box in step, halted, snapped salutes, removed the flag with cadenced jerks, folded the flag from corner to side, on the bias and back and forth to make a pack triangular and blue, which one then pressed between his palms, traversed the plastic grass, left-faced before the widow, snapped a sharp salute again and then . . .
Clucked like a chicken, went cock-a-doodle-do,
Hopped around like a kangaroo,
Sang a little ditty and he sang quite well, he
Patted his head and he scratched his belly,
Gave her the flag for which her man had died,
And they all went home quite satisfied . . .
except the widow.
Reprinted with permission of "Envoi," No. 123