The Three Ages Of Women (2) by Gustav Klimt
The Three Ages Of Women by Gustav Klimt
The Three Ages Of Women by Gustav Klimt The Three Ages Of Women by Gustav Klimt

Preparing the body for burial

She was so very beautiful, a vision in white,
This is how we prepare the body for burial,
She said, taking my hand and leading me,
Out of the darkness and into the light.

I cannot go with you, I protested, please, not yet,
I have so much life to live, so much to do
And yet, I would go with you, strange beauty.
Your hands are soft, your presence, so very different
From this rough soldier's suit, hold me, woman
Whom I have never known, Mother of my soul.

I remember when I was a child, I cut my hand,
You saved me, loved me and each day,
You were there, for me, pray, you will always be there, Amen.

She led me, through white-tiled rooms,
The corpses lay, side by side, prepared for burial,
So much of life, still to live, flesh and blood
And the shame, so much love, still to give.

She lifted the sheet and I looked, frightened,
That I should see myself, but it was Peter who lay
Prepared, poor child, she gripped my hand, courage,
She said, you must say farewell now, for ever.
Then I wept, cried out and awoke, in the night.

Peter stood there, before me, he laughed his laugh
This same old soldier, of nineteen.
Get up, he said, it's time, foot-patrol!
And I rose, preparing the body, for burial,
Sadly, I met his gaze, beautiful child
And led him, out of the darkness,
And into the light.

Dedicated to Mrs Rita Restorick -
and to all of the Mothers of the victims of conflict.