Elegy: Activism of Blood
They never expected to be claimed in the activism of blood,
the March for Lives, the tour across the country filling in
for the senior trip for some; the pledge of voter registration
for others, replacing the animal house of SATs, admission essays
regulated to vague because the personal is too painful for them
to count beyond seventeen — seventeen being the truth stuck in the middle
of their existence, between the right enough doubters who believe
there actors, re-enactors and the left rest of the world who see
them as heroes– everything not equal to seventeen being fake news or
way beyond brave that needed to be investigated and heard until no
hearing was left, no stone unturned, just the video rewind of
assault and response playing the truth they heard or doubt they saw as it
bled into today and today and today and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow–
the truth knowing and existing only for those inside the video–
the majority left stone men, Gollum’s, knowing they would be confused forever as
the school named after Frederick Douglass’ younger cousin/sister;
obsessed with the business of busy so they did not have to mourn.
Kaddish: Parkland Sighs Seven Times
The first sigh belongs to AA , the five bullet wounds he took blocking a door
now healed, thrown from the public loop to being home schooled.
Until he got messed up he dreamed of being Messi.
BB owns the second sigh, having lost a scientist and two poets
in the assault. “One day the bubble will burst,” her teacher once said.
And it did. Squawking birds and fireworks are among the sounds she wishes never to hear. She dreams of moving to Ireland, a land once of troubles but no guns.
Officer CC , takes the third sigh, knowing now that every cop will eventually get their dress blues tattooed and stitched to their insides, now grateful for the days when the daylight is lighter than his darkness, and that the movement of patrol allows no down time. He sleeps very little, fishes even less, sighs all the time.
DD takes the fourth sigh for her bf that died that day, and his last flowers to her are carefully preserved in a vase on her desk— and she will wear his sweatshirt like forever. His best friend took her to the prom, and it was all a nice gesture, until the slideshow of the lost played and everyone fell crying to the gym floor, while she stood trembling still.
EE became an activist for the blood spilled that day, so the fifth sigh is more howl than cry. He toured sixty cities in sixty days— marching, marching, marching, until he was almost dead. He realized being alive was better than being dead and that he was no martyr. Now he sells T-shirts with QR codes on them that take people to a polished site that lets them register to vote.
Miss FF lost her son that day, and the sixth sigh is the well practiced sigh she learned from the no book of getting/not getting through it all. The no book says that losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to a parent. The no non book says not to cry before the world, so she is forever crying inside. The no no non book doesn’t have a chapter about not watching your son going to college, getting married, having children or growing old with you. It does have a chapter about dealing with it. It says: DEAL WITH IT and nothing else. Miss EE now doesn’t read no non non nonsensical self-help books.
The last sigh belongs to GG, a Parkland English teacher who tapestry them into a Kaddish, a memorial prayer for the survivors and the dead. Some of them you have already read.
The Elegy is suppose to read as a 17 line poem. One line for each of the Parkland victims. The formatting for the editor here doesn’t allow my original formatting to be retained.
The characters in the Kaddish are composite portrayals of interviews with the survivors taken from various newspaper sights.
Some of the details are very much true. I use poetic imagination to fill out the rest. Pretty much 50-50 there.