To a KIA, Baghdad Iraq, October 2005


In a flash you became invisible to me.
The grey-black ash framed by dun colored dust swirls,
The flood of sound pushing away all sound, swallowed you.
Then that fearsome flood washed over me.
In the swelling mushroom cloud
Where I stood, at the roadside,
Watching you,
I wonder if my time was up—
This time.
But, I never said your name.
Now, the Sergeant Major will shout it out—your name
(with the others).
We’ll sit where you sat, and walk where you walked
Amid the pale flowers, flags, and dusty tentage.
All drained of color by that common sun that God made for us.
Outside, the makers of your demise—
The builders of the bomb.
And inside, the dissembling retinue,
And the once-again mourners.
But our sudden shock is incomparable
To the sharp stab and lingering ache
Of the inevitable notification.

—Lt. Col William Adler, U.S. Army
September 2020


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March 2023