A young man, soldier, far from home;
Is he homesick? Feel alone?
The climate’s cold, the people odd,
Strange trees and birds, and even gods.
Writes to his mother, sister, brother;
Writes one letter, then another.
“I pray that you all are well…”
A small and private tale to tell.
His letter hints at some discord;
“You don’t write back…” these are his words.
What war was this? What campaign?
Congo? Kosovo? Iran?
Two thousand years have passed to dust
Since he fought, wrong or just,
From a European post,
Far from Egypt’s sunny coast.
“I’ll ask for leave… I’ll come to you…”
We’ll never know: what did he do?
Buried for two thousand years,
Papyrus from the wild frontier,
From ruins dug the letter came,
From families gone into our hands.
Translation new; familiar nerve
In the hearts of those who serve.
www.livescience.com with thanks to Grant Adamson for his translation