RESOUNDING SILENCE*

(*Be forewarned, this is a shift from the usual post. On December 14, 1992 there was a shooting on the campus of Simon’s Rock College of Bard. A professor and student died, four others (my son included) were seriously wounded. Twenty years to the day later, in Connecticut 26 people died in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then there have been so many, many other mass shootings in our country. This is in honor of all the victims, alive and departed.)

— In memory of Galen Gibson and Nacunan Saez, victims of a greater insanity, December 14, 1992

It was a night much like this
but for a quarter century’s slow elapse.
It was a place much like this
resting beneath freshly fallen snow.
          The solution is quite simple He
          wrote, we need only round them up,
          ship them to the desert.
          If AIDS doesn’t take them
          in ten years, we can
          finish the job then.

It was a night much like this
His “then” has come but there
is no job left for Him to finish
          He offered them up
          as a sacrifice to His god
          Tonight they have no body
          to offer to our tongues, no blood
          for our lips.
          We have only settled ground
          of barren altars
          outside Buenos Aires,
          in a snow shrouded Gloucester.
          We have no icons
          through which to channel our prayer
          save the flattened lead slugs
          the earth rejects.

It was a night much like this
          but Galen’s blood no longer stains the snow
          piled along side the library door,
          there are no shards
          of windshield, bits of skull
          where Nacuñan looked
          momentarily into His eyes.
          There is no blood tonight
          on the stairs to my son’s apartment
          nor on the dormitory stairs he limped that night
          to escape what he could not see
          his legs rejecting him.

It was a night much like this one
          but the walls are bare
          there are no gurneys
          pressed against the wall,
          gurneys I needed to believe,
          convinced myself, were
          starched sheet covered supplies.

SUNDAY MORNING

It is Sunday
we sit in the living room
each with our lattes
she brushing the cat.
I sat on the sofa
with the Sunday Times.
We are listening
to radio Hele Norge,
unsure why, the
Norwegian caroming
around our ears,
the speakers noticing
nothing different.
We’re not quite sure
how the weather is
in Lillehammer today,
but it’s sunny here.
Neither of us
pauses to wonder
what Archimedes would
make of it all.

MAGIC, ONCE

As a child he had a magical power.
He didn’t like to use it, didn’t want others
to know he had it, certainly couldn’t share it.
He wasn’t certain when it began to fade,
but he noticed the power diminished as he grew,
as he learned more about the world,
and there was absolutely nothing he could do
to stop or even slow its diminution.
He knew he would miss it, knew he
would always remember it even when
there was no longer a trace of it.
He stopped thinking about it as life
engulfed him in its ever-present moments.
Every once in a while he would pause
and remember it with fondness for
innocence is not something you lose willingly.

A MURDEROUS CACOPHONY

The crows were at it in the park today,
unable, it seemed, to agree on anything
and unwilling to let any other have the last word.
I asked them to stop, and that bought
all of fifteen seconds of peace before one
decided the debate needed to go on.
It was a cacophony hard on the ears,
and I wondered if the person who decided
that crows in groups were a murder
had ever stopped to listen, for to me
any group of crows is a cacophony.
As I thought this a small gathering
of wrens took up their autumn song,
and in the face of that sweet,
trilling chorus even the crows fell silent.