UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LINKS
From: The Acid Test, 1980
(Killed at Kent State University, May 4, 1970
by the Ohio National Guard)
'You might have met her on a Saturday night,
cutting precise circles, clockwise, at the Moon-Glo
Roller Rink, or walking with quick step
between the campus and a green two-storey house,
where the room was always tidy, the bed made,
the books in confraternity on the shelves.
She did not throw stones, major in philosophy
or set fire to buildings, though acquaintances say
she hated war, had heard of Cambodia.
In truth she wore a modicum of make-up, a brassiere,
and could no doubt more easily have married a guardsman
than cursed or put a flower in his rifle barrel.
While the armouries burned, she studied,
bent low over notes, speech therapy books, pages
open at sections on impairment, physiology.
And while they milled and shouted on the commons,
she helped a boy named Billy with his lisp, saying
Hiss, Billy, like a snake. Thatís it, SSSSSSSS,
tongue well up and back behind your teeth.
Now buzz, Billy, like a bee. Feel the air
vibrating in my windpipe as I breathe?
As she walked in sunlight through the parking-lot
at noon, feeling the world a passing lovely place,
a young guardsman, who had his sights on her,
was going down on one knee, as if he might propose.
His declaration, unmistakable, articulate,
flowered within her, passed through her neck,
severed her trachea, taking her breath away.
Now who will burn the midnight oil for Billy,
ensure the perilous freedom of his speech;
and who will see her skating at the Moon-Glo
Roller Rink, the eight small wooden wheels
making their countless revolutions on the floor?
Gary Geddes's works copyright © to the author.