Thursday, April 19, 2012

5th to 6th

So it went off
     And it was not thunder
     It was not a gasline explosion as my father imagined
          Looking up suddenly from whatever I'm sure he was reading
               as he waited for his work truck to be serviced

I was trying to be a high school sophomore in 2nd hour English

And my mother was at work and not getting a replacement Social Security card
We knew with certainty this is not what she did.
     Everyone knows where they were that morning
     and where they weren't
          with the certainty that they know on mercifully rare occasions

And, no, it was not 9/11 to the 'world'
It was 4/19 to the 4-0-5

It wasn't thunder
     but it rained that night and for many nights therafter
          I think
     My memory might betray slightly
          17 years on

My mother worked some late nights
     called in as many state health workers were that week
My father had no voyeuristic wish
     to see a "graveyard"
          as indeed I did
     But nor did he oppose me being taken to see
          for I hadn't yet known death on such a scale

I attempted to give blood for the first time
    But many hundred already of age had already beaten me to it
Walmarts were brimming
     Not enough donated supplies boxes could be kept out

Firsthand, I can say that many white suburban teenagers have not approached anger
         or shock
              or displacement
         in quite that way before or since

And I won't forget the immediate iconography
     as the roaming spotlight briefly revealed
     the irreparably wounded structure
          left barely standing, and not for much longer
     but permanently bearing
     and forever reflecting
           some brokenness
           some void
as to what, you may fill in your own blank

It's always 11/22 in Dealey Plaza
     (I wasn't even alive at the time
     And I know that)
It's always 4/19 from 5th to 6th on Harvey Ave.


  1. Was there. That night. Yes, it rained and the tornado sirens wailed as I stood outside on 5th Street. Yes, outside in the rain. NOTHING was going to keep me from ministering...