“… the righteous man has nothing to fear, neither In life, nor
and the gods will not forsake him.”
(For those who died heroically at Newtown, Connecticut,
And William Dane Dodge, un rédacteur sans égal)
The gods came to this place once known as Quanneapague
before the town bells could ring out their joy to the world.
It was a cold December morning.
In the forest surrounding the Sandy Hook Elementary,
the hoarfrost hung like Christmas icicles.
Homes along the quiet streets of Newtown
were brimming with pine cones and poinsettias,
with Christmas wreaths and Himalayan green roses.
The gods saw the longing for immortality
in these rolling hills with their winter apple orchards.
This was the same place where the French General Rochambeau
encamped on the way to the siege of Yorktown with his troops.
It was not a massacre then, but a revolutionary war.
These ancient gods who dimmed the hopes
of every schoolchild in Connecticut,
were the same gods who sealed the pact
between a great democracy and an even greater anarchy,
proclaiming its right to bear arms.
Here we are again, moved to an insidious silence
as we witness men and women of high rank,
along with the somber faces of journalists and TV anchors,
lowering the flag to mourn another mass killing.
The people have gathered outside the Newtown meeting house
not far from Ram’s Pasture
as they have since the Revolution, standing
beneath the Rooster weathervane, his proud tail
spinning at the center of this unending vigil.
Everybody knows what this country is about.
The cathedrals and churches are lit with candles
while gun shops across America are jammed with new customers.
As members of the ‘Commission on Morality and Massacres’
we go on talking about safety
while gawking at children’s coffins on TV.
The chatter on the internet is all about mental illness
and the impossibility of gun control,
as if death was the perpetual star of our nativity.
They fell at Sandy Hook: twelve schoolgirls, eight boys, six adults,
warriors as great as those at Lexington and Gettysburg
but they were no match for two automatic pistols
and the smooth steel of a Bushmaster assault rifle.
Thinking of America’s firing ranges and the carnage
unleashed by one gunman,
the gods came to me this morning.
Before the rooster crowed,
I took my AK-47 and smashed its wood stock,
gutting the firing chamber and breaking its trigger
with a sledge hammer.
I marveled at the precision of this weapon,
at all the beauty and craftsmanship
now lying in ruins.
The gods did not promise me any safe passage.