The Stonecutter

It comes to this: a train ride. Your new name, Private. Descent into nouveau darkness, and you will sleep but lightly.

Inquisitive eyes, hair slicked, side parted. On the way, your jumpy heart fails—sparing you trench and poison gas. A haversack turned inside out.

He engraves your name, James P. Lawlor, on limestone. His back to shattered grey, rising wings.

The letters cast sharp shadows. A scroll of dates and dash.

He Did His Best. These singing souls, this dust. He kneels, holds the chisel fast. He will remember you by this ache in his bones. Stranger, solider. Son.

Ulrica Hume is the author of An Uncertain Age, a spiritual mystery novel, and House of Miracles, a collection of tales about love, one of which was selected by PEN and broadcast on NPR. Her flash pieces appear online and in anthologies. Find out more at She tweets @uhume.