sixth grade

Walker AFB, New Mexico,

walking home for lunch,

one of the Ballard boys rode his bicycle past me


“Someone shot the President!”

I shouted back,

“Shut up, Jimmy! That isn’t even funny!”

But it was true,

we spent the afternoon school

tv running,

Mr. Fry shushing us…

Walter Cronkite removing his glasses

announcing the President was dead

then the weekend

tv and radio carrying

only news about President Kennedy’s assassination…

Mrs. Kennedy’s blood stained suit;  blank, shocked eyes…

black and white images and live tv

the empty boots on the  balking riderless horse

the drumming, drumming…

the grinding wheels of the caisson carrying the casket…

Mrs. Kennedy heavily veiled marching behind

my Dad wiping his eyes and blowing his nose,

My Dad crying…

I went to Dallas for work in my thirties, visited the site, stood at the memorial on the grassy knoll, looked up at the windows of the book depository, imagined the cars turning just below those windows, just yards away from the end of the crowds, a broader street, safety…

utter silence and acute heaviness dwells in that place…

the tears of a nation soak its lawn…

To this day it offends me to see young women dressed in pink, red stained suits and pill box hats at Halloween, thinking it clever to dress up like Mrs. Kennedy in her moment of horror…
to hear the press compare other first ladies to Jackie…

No one compares with her style, her grace…

I suppose his death altered our world

yet, very little changed.

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