November 22, 1963 (if Alive then and Over Five, You Remember)

November 22, 1963 (if Alive then and Over Five, You Remember)

Ushered from pine
desks to blacktop,
the big girls–third-graders–
roamed red-eyed arm-in-arm,
while we, who always spent recess as horses,
studied holding our bowed heads stiff
so that even our hair (the reins)
would not seem to play at anything
but the insurmountable grief
we were only just
learning about.

Fifty years. Fifty-five words without the title. I know it’s late in the day but tell it to the G-Man.

I am also linking this to Victoria C. Slotto’s Poetics prompt on calendars over at dVerse Poets Pub.  (Not sure this quite fits the prompt, but it is a day on the calendar that pops up for me.)

(All rights reserved to poem and photograph.).

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35 Comments on “November 22, 1963 (if Alive then and Over Five, You Remember)”

  1. G-Man Says:

    What an incredible day of remembering moments frozen in time forever. Morbid as it sounds, this was one of the best FF-55 days ever! I felt every word and emotion that you conveyed in your poem.
    I Loved your remembrance 55
    Thanks for playing, sometimes I don’t feel like the day is complete without seeing you…:-) ThHave a Kick Ass Week-End

  2. grapeling Says:

    emotive and so effectively descriptive – hair as reins is such a vivid image ~

  3. Cody McCullough Says:

    Amazing leaf.

  4. Brendan Says:

    Yes — I was about the same age — it was not having a vocabulary yet for what was being expressed — not having any sense of the history behind the moment — all of that emotion like a dark sea pressing against a wall. And yet feeling the need to suppress a giggle. To act the way the others were grieving. Very fine taut write.

  5. claudia Says:

    i wasn’t alive then but thanks to the tags got it… i think it was one of the events that threw the world a bit out of its trajectory… and you get it never really back on course..

    • claudia Says:

      ok – maybe course is the wrong word… like if a ship stays on target..? like if a rocket gets out of the planned path…? cannot find the english word for it…ugh

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Understood. That is a big question–it’s nice to think that Kennedy would have had enough sway with his advisors to get us out of Vietnam early. Hard to know. I think it was especially difficult for Johnson since he was truly a domestic policy kind of person and had a very hard time resisting the input of Kennedy’s foreign policy advisors and all the generals around at that time. Thanks, Claudia, for your always kind visits. k.

  6. ayala Says:

    A day that will be engraved in our minds forever.

  7. hedgewitch Says:

    Yes, it’s hard to assimilate events of that magnitude at that age(or any age, I suppose), yet we feel them perhaps all the more.I was at that pre-teen stage where you’re beginning to see adult ways, (and so think you know much more than your actually do :_) ) but still have a child’s malleability and softness.
    In this , k, you manage to weave in the sense of great grief and upheaval, all while keeping that innocent perspective–an excellent job of compression and selection to make us feel the shock anew fifty years down the road. A sad time, this anniversary, despite all the positive things that have been presented along with it(peace corps, great–truly great–inspiring speeches, and for me, the film clips of he and his children, and of Jackie looking at him so lovingly.)

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. This is one of those times that I regret not having a TV as I would really like to see some of that footage. Of course, you can find on the internet, but a little more difficult (and one feels somehow more voyeuristic or obsessive to look it up there.) Growing up in DC, I went to Kennedy’s inauguration and funeral. My memories are quite impressionistic, but they were pretty impressive events so I do have some. I should probably write more about them before they go. Thanks as always for your kind comments. It was such a sad time. k.

      On Sat, Nov 23, 2013 at 10:14 AM, ManicDDaily

  8. brian miller Says:

    just a little before my time….the first tragedy for me was the challenger explosion…watching it as it happened in science call…was quite a shock, but def this is a turning point in our country…

  9. ds Says:

    Alive, yes, but under five. I do remember watching the funeral on TV, mesmerized by the riderless black horse. That image in your poem has such resonance…Thank you.

  10. Mary Says:

    Karin, it is so sad when children have to come to terms with insurmountable grief at such an early age. This should not happen to them until MUCH later. I think, no matter what the age, JFK’s death had impact though…..which lasted until the present; and life never really WAS the same again. And playing horses never had quite the carefree nature afterwards…..

  11. Gabriella Says:

    I enjoyed your evocation of the playground, and of you girls playing horses but in a different way because of JFK’s assassination.

  12. Excellent poem. Subtle and poignant.

  13. I was a student nurse working night shift with the house supervisor. I remember details of that shift–low demand for pain meds as people were lost watching the happening on television.Glad you used the prompt for this.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hi Victoria–I’d actually thought of finding all these elephant pictures I’d started to draw once in the thought of doing a calendar, but I didn’t do that many, and this was fresh. It is a very good topic, and someday I may do an elephant, silly, calendar.

      There was so much generalized pain that I can imagine people not using pain meds. Thanks. Hope all is well. So great about your book. I will order it. (It may take me a little bit of time as my work life is out of control at the moment, but will do.) k.

  14. Ruth Says:

    the insurmountable grief
    we were only just
    learning about.

    Indeed… Beautifully written…

  15. You have so well captured those moments in your words. 🙂

  16. I do remember….. and you brought me back to the day and also playing horses….

  17. Karin, I was too young back then,,, and living in Sweden. I cannot say that I remember it… The way you describe learning on how to show grief is so special and well penned…
    I remember the Swedish primeminister was shot (still unsolved) and how I woke up to the radio playing something I thought was a radio theater (as an opposite to War of the Worlds). It was so hard to beleive that it had happened and the day is a day I remember in vivid detail..

  18. kkkkaty1 Says:

    We mark our calendars permanently with events like these…assassinations, hurricanes, then there are those who mark passing anniversaries every year….we learn to grieve soon enough and while you were a 3rd grader I was a sophomore in H. S. 😉

  19. janehewey Says:

    My mom tells the story about feeding me on her lap while watching the television as the horrific event unfolded. This is a really well-honed 55. I am struck by the visual of girls with bowed heads and the hair as reins.

  20. hypercryptical Says:

    I remember that day too.

  21. Akila Says:

    very vivid! moments that freeze in time and you have created a stunning visual here

  22. Believe it or not, I remember because I was home with my grandma, sick with an pneumonia and her reaction defied all words! You’ve crowded a few seconds that have lasted my lifetime in brilliance ~ Faithfully Debbie

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