Your mustache is waxed
sharpened into bayonet tips
You look crisp in dress grays
stars on your collar
— corporal
curly hair, determined eyes
you live in this image now
young in the emperor’s service

You watch him
learn him
Say him
writing your soldier’s literature

of him
to your daughter
who grew old
and forgot them

There went your literature

So all that’s left
of your empire
— your photo
thoughts of lost stories —
is chopped up, frying
in a pan with the rest
of the noodles and cabbage
which she made for me
and I would greedily eat

My corporal,
I was eating
your empire