The Courier

Richard Shindell

I am a courier
Crawling in the dirt
Toward the front line
As the crow flies
A note stashed in my shirt
From the Prince of Wales
Far above the field
With his marshalls
And their chain-mail
Their banners taut and high

I did not ask him what the note said
He did not offer to explain
It's not my job to ask the questions
I'm just the courier

A flare shot leaves a scar
Burning in the dark
On my forearms
Toward the front line
Then another fifty yards
Crouching in the trench
Clutching bayonettes
A hundred men
All knee-to-chest
A hundred marionettes

I am the string pulled by the sure hand
Animating what was still
I am invisible and faithful
I am a courier

The Captain breaks the seal
And quickly reads the note
On your feet boys
Make you peace boys
Pass those letters down
To this courier
Guardian of the word
Hand him all you've seen
Hand him all you've heard
Hand him all your pearls

And he'll go back to where he came from
He will deliver each by hand
He takes this as a point of honor
To be a courier