Kill the poys and the luggage! ‘tis expressly
Against the law of arms: ‘tis as arrant a piece of
Knavery, mark you now, as can be offer’t; in your
Conscience, now, is it not?
–Fluellen, Henry V, Act 4, scene 7
All my pretty ones?
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
At one fell swoop?
–Macduff, Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 3
Their little bodies are gone down in the ground —
Mere babes swaddled one last time
In gauze and sutures and cotton plugs,
Accompanied by favorite toys and teddy bears,
Threadbare bunnies, Barbie dolls, and baseball caps.
December’s soggy earth absorbed the lot:
Twenty coffins, each one no bigger than a rifle case.
Too sweet, those tender hearts, to turn into
Angry ghosts. And to gnash with what?
Milk teeth stained six or seven times
With frosting on a birthday cake. Too mild,
The helpless ones, to thrash with indignation
At the blued-steel the grown-ups made
That shot them down to darkness; too young
To howl at their betrayal by elders
Enamored of death and its easiest of instruments;
Too pure to cry for revenge; too innocent
To comprehend the thousand acts of cowardice,
From Congress and the courts to the corner barber shop,
That conspired to make their last moments
A brief fit of tiny squeals and trembling,
Like rabbits shaking in the hunter’s clutch.