A Public Death

So many deaths of this kind these days. I was sorting through a stack of old papers and found this poem, one of the earliest that I wrote, about the first death that came much too close to me. It was a different President, and the coffins were not hidden away:

A Public Death

A suicide bomber slammed the Embassy.
Along with his colleagues, B blew up.
Then came the formalities:
fragments reassembled
in rows of flag-draped coffins.
Military honours.
The President wiping away tears.

I spent days on my hands and knees,
scrubbing the floor again and again.
No need to add water.

Which war was it?
Death was new to me then.
My first time, and full of ceremony,
unlike the deaths that came later.

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