Crisp in whites, eight men up, four on a side,
slow-step the horizontal coffin
across the flat expanse of our carrier,
toward the edge.
The decks are quieted. Crews of men
in oil-spotted work clothes give a wide perimeter.
The air hangs vacantly, with no women
present to stitch that familiar dense knot, that compact of grief.
There blooms no mass of creamy blossoms in plunging cascades.
No mingling odors waft from these.
Instead, it’s that of engine oil, lubricant, hydraulic fluid,
joint grease and jet fuel;
the very same that daily inhabit our pores
and blacken our nails.
We, the deck hands, pause to squint,
grease guns lowered by our sides.
One hand is up to shade the eyes
in the working stiff’s salute.
I’d probably brushed against him once or twice,
in ship’s tight quarters,
a man among his mates, to whom this was his one request.
In silence, the bearers walk at the pace of a slowly beaten drum,
toward the vast blank slate of swallowing sea.
Sun’s late day rays descend, yet now appear to us as
golden Jacob’s ladders reaching out of
the flickering water, up and through a scattering
of silver-rimmed clouds.
The coffin lies replete inside red, white, stripes,
and blue starred field against
all the varieties of silenced gray.
Recorded Taps now scratches at our ears.
Paused at the edge, the shrouded form
gets tipped, to plummet through the air
and burst the surface into a white flower.
Like the dissolution of the last few breaths,
a transparency of bubbles slowly trails off
behind our steady steaming wake.
The loose and empty flag is held aloft,
awaiting its disappearance
into the tight folds of its familiar trinity.
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We hope you will join us in The Imaginative Conservative community. The Imaginative Conservative is an online journal for those who seek the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. We address culture, liberal learning, politics, political economy, literature, the arts and the American Republic in the tradition of Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Edmund Burke, Irving Babbitt, Wilhelm Roepke, Robert Nisbet, Richard Weaver, M.E. Bradford, Eric Voegelin, Christopher Dawson, Paul Elmer More, and other leaders of Imaginative Conservatism. Some conservatives may look at the state of Western culture and the American Republic and see a huge dark cloud which seems ready to unleash a storm that may well wash away what we most treasure of our inherited ways. Others focus on the silver lining which may be found in the next generation of traditional conservatives who have been inspired by Dr. Kirk and his like. We hope that The Imaginative Conservative answers T.S. Eliot’s call to “redeem the time, redeem the dream.” The Imaginative Conservative offers to our families, our communities, and the Republic, a conservatism of hope, grace, charity, gratitude, and prayer.
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