What a moment defines
Burning the ROTC — St. Louis, 1970
Sometimes I think of him,
arm raised above his head
Holding a bottle
an incendiary device.
That moment describes an arc
of movement, and from it a future path.
All moments lead up to this point
and endlessly recede from it
like waves pounding the shore.
Which moment defines his free will?
Filling the bottle,
Lighting the wick,
Attending the rally,
Shouting into the crowd?
Or when fingers release,
Promoting the madness contained within?
With the gift of Prometheus unleashed,
an angry genie leapt from the bottle,
flames engulfed the building,
My father was there
that night the war came home,
on the other side of history,
as a Master of the Forsyth Houses,
defender of an institution
that could no longer calm or contain
those enrolled in its tutelage,
those he counseled, tried to calm
when they were past reason.
It was time for action and action was war.
My father thought he was one of them,
a rebellious son in his own family.
Truth hit hard, he was also the man.
The struggle broke my fathers will,
literally burned out, a colleague said.
The student with the bottle
finally gave himself up twenty-seven years
after his path crossed my father’s,
I wonder what he accomplished
with his lost life.
His freedom vanished — what he was
fighting for — that day he exercised
his free will to become: irrational.
How simple a movement,
to raise ones arm and open the palm.
The gesture being the same
For waving, hello or goodbye.
Photographs by Kathy Weinberg 2014. 1st image: Prisoner Escapes, above image: Sirens of Lexington.