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Dust to Ashes
by Bob Skeele

It was a beautiful view to the west,
the wide green valley cupping the blue sky,
the gentle September breeze, sun-warmed,
scudding the brilliant white clouds along
as the three sailors, two men and a woman,
in their dress blues and white gloves, stood
to the right, ram-rod still, guarding
the moment, honoring it as were we
under the canopy, with our silence,
the rhythmic scrape of the shovel against
the wheelbarrow's metal the only
sound, as the earth made its way back to
the ground, covering Joan's urn-bound ashes,
one small shovelful at a time.
The few minutes it took were long enough
to know how much Joan would have cherished
the scene, the show of the gentle tamping down
of the square of sod over her ashes
and the playing of taps,
and the careful unfolding and folding of the flag,
its colors snapping our hearts to attention
with its beauty and meaning,
and the flag's presentation
in the name of the President of the United States.
Rest well my beloved shipmate, rest well.

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