Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Unknown Soldier

We were soldiers, through and through
Who did what we were told to do
We could not ever question why
We could only kill or die

This stump where my arm should be
I got it in the war, you see?
While I was in the trenches
A bomb knocked out my senses

And took my arm to God knew where
But no one said that war was fair
I've come to be known as an amputee...
Bombs make for poor removal surgery (strategy)

There were many like me in the fight
On both sides who thought they were in the right
And lost an arm, or leg, or even a head...
Who died before the enemy was dead.

Now that you know who I am
I'll tell you of one we'll call Sam
Today Sam is a pile of bones
In the tomb of the unknowns

A lady came after many years
And asked for help, with solemn tears,
of science and the government
wanting permission for disinterment

Her children had grown without a dad
And she was forced to give all she had
to be a good mother, and father too
in times when only one or the other would do

So, head held high with fine composure
She was determined for some closure
And boldly knocked on bureaucrats' doors
Just to be pointed down other corridors

Months would pass, she got her way
the bones were dug for DNA
You see, the woman thought that our friend Sam
Could possibly be her missing man.

And like in a paternity test
DNA would lay the matter to rest
The strands of which, like a cryptogram
Hold the secret code of poor old Sam

Cells were extracted from many a bone
that made up the remains of the Unknown
And then some cells from the children's hair
were taken and processed to compare

Four science teams were then assigned
Each to see what it could find
Cells from the legs, arms, chest and skull
were divided up among them all

Cells from the chest where the heart's concealed
Were checked and they revealed
That, indeed, with very little doubt
Sam's identity was found out

The scientists smiled at their success,
and felt they could tell the lady "yes"
Science had made them satisfied
Her husband's bones were identified

But their pride was very short to live
For another team came back negative
When comparing the data they found with dismay
The leg bone and hair had unmatched DNA

Then came the skull team, negative also
And the arm team was soon to follow
So that one of the four showed positive
and three of the four showed negative

The chest team's tempers were unwinding
and they hotly defended their finding
that they were right and the others wrong
but the other teams' fuses were also not long

So instead of looking for testing faults
the weary teams let fly insults
and they might have blackened eyes and busted jaws
If one hadn't seen what he thought he saw

For one doctor's mouth went wide and swore
He saw our Sam who died in war
Turn over on the table where he lay...
But then these men had a very long day

This distraction tore down all defenses
and brought the doctors to their senses
For these were men of brains, not brawn
And if they could, they'd think 'til dawn

They decided they'd check each bone against the others
to make sure that they were truly brothers
And to their shock and utter chagrin
They found no bone had a DNA twin

The arm bones, the leg bones, the chest and the head
Weren't related, except through being dead
Someone had buried these parts together
bones that were not birds of a feather

These skeletal remains had appeared intact
but they were not, and as a matter of fact
Sam's bones were the parts of many men...
And my right arm was one of them!

1 comment:

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