He slumps back
against a battered tree trunk,
head nodding to the left and
eyes closed.
His broad shoulders thrown back,
his torso,
as with all gods and heroes,
muscular
and bare.
Bare legs
jut out from tattered pants, and
the corrosion that turns all weathered bronze to green
streams down like blood
oozing from his wounds.
An ammo belt encircles his waist,
and an empty bayonet scabbard
dangles from his side.

The pedestal too
is bare, save for three rusted bolts
where four once held the bronze plaque
now long gone
from the lawn
behind the iron fence
at Jersey City’s Abraham Lincoln High School.

Who will tell the students who this is?
Why he died. What artist carved this beautiful young man
long dead.
Eighty? Seventy years ago? What mayor, alderman,
school board president stood here, unveiled this
bronze corpse, and swore that the sacrifices
of this boy
would live forever
in our hearts?

Raymond A. Schroth, S.J., is an associate editor of America.

Comments

E Kelly | 3/29/2011 - 7:47pm
Fr. Schroth, your "Jersey City Memorial " allows me to say now I know. You see with the eyes of a poet. And you write from a poet's soul.
Paul 

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