In memory of Staff Sergeant Carl Butera
At some point it ends, the possibility of flesh,
and we imagine what might have been,
the wilted dandelion bouquet held too tight
by small hands, the soft comforting whispers
on a stormy night.
It’s better than the concrete image that plays
in slow motion, a young man in uniform
standing firm on a cobblestone street before
his legs buckle and he collapses hard.
Where was he going that day? Did he hear
the crack before the bullet hit? Did he see
all those children he’d never know folding
in succession like paper dolls?
Years later, when his sister passes and her own
son and granddaughter sift through photos,
he is there in sepia, his dark eyes staring past them
and all the faces of those children hover
about them like ghosts.
This poem appeared previously in the print edition of the Lyons Recorder.