by Grover B. Proctor, Jr.
The tears of autumn flow life-red,
Painting creation and my soul
With an indelible tragic brush.
In the forest of autumn
I stand alone beside the car in which
Gawking pedestrian tourists presses around--
Unsure how to react, reminded of their own mortality,
Repeating hushed words like talismans or omens
("Oswald, Jackie, Grassy Knoll, Oliver Stone"),
As if possession of them proves they know
The esoteric secrets of the event and somehow
Gives them status above the uninitiated.
They bend to read the sign beside the roped-off icon,
The museum doesn't sell the picture postcard
In the fields of autumn
Bitter steel and sullen glass (in truth,
It doesn't take much imagination to still see,
Leaders who see futures, set courses, provoke change,
The flame changed forever from willing to wary,
Salvia splendens (red salvia).
Like scarlet sage spikes, these perennial sanguine stalks
Appear to drip copiously the blood of fallen heroes,
Or serve as reminders of the spear points
On which some doomed tragic protagonist
Throws himself to exit from an unwanted fate.
Hatred gave birth on that day in 1963.
At the cross-streets of unfettered bilious gall
Gunfire ripped the flesh of rational debate,
Avarice and Anarchy continue to draw names in the sand,
In the front lawn of autumn
And so I stand beside the car in which
I try to view it as a historical puzzle or anomaly;
I try to view it as a symbol of a lost national innocence,
I try to fill myself with the righteous indignation
But what I see, as I stand not two feet from the car--
And while I try my damnedest to think of trajectories
Here now, for the first time perhaps ever,
Author's Note: The car in which President Kennedy was assassinated is on permanent display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. This poem reflects my reactions to seeing the car for the first time ever in the fall of 1997, after having spent over 20 years as an historian, researcher, consultant, author, and lecturer on the controversies surrounding the assassination.
|All content ©1995-2010. All rights reserved.|