November 22, 1963 (Playground)
Our hair served both
as reins and manes
and we’d just learned how
to canter–one same leg rocking always
ahead of the other–and also
the word for it–
But we knew that late afternoon,
that late November, was not the time
to play–not that recess, which was not
at its right time,
for the president was dead, shot
in the head, the president young and beautiful
as any horse
to a child,
and we let our hair hang lank
upon our backs,
not knowing how else to weep.
A draft poem for today, the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The pic is from another poem, actually about Kennedy’s funeral, where a riderless horse was led down Pennsylvania Avenue.
I have revised this fairly significantly and a few times since first posting and since people commented. It has a last stanza that went as follows, but I think it’s better, ending as above, with the hair. I include this here just because it was part of the poem all day!
what we’d practiced was
to sweep the air away, to toss our heads,
but the golden fall of that
fall sun was not
a time to run, our president gone,
and all so young.