Scenes from the aftermath in Oakland:
stories of victims, survivors and healers.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"You've changed places, he and you" - Part 1

The poet Antonkolsky
"You've changes places, he and you"
Part 1 - Not days, not years, but centuries
 
The Russian Pavel Antonkolsky wrote the long poem "Son" after the June 1942 death of his 18-year-old son, Vladimir, in World War II. Reading it for the first time this quiet gray morning in Oakland, I couldn't avoid being reminded of the plight of every parent here who loses a son to the gun. So many of the killed are 18, or just a few years on either side of 18. The majority of our victims are between the ages of 18 and 34. The vast majority are men and boys. The point here is that in just about every case I've encountered, at least one of the parents of the victim is alive to suffer. This is what they suffer. And this is how long their suffering lasts, whether their son was what people call "a good kid gainfully employed," or what they call "troubled."


You must dig in black ashes a long time.
Not days, not years, but centuries,
Until your dry eyes finally grow blind,
Until the stiffening hand ceases
At the end of its final line. Look now
At the features that you loved.
He's not your successor; you're -- his.
You've changed places, he and you.
                                                  -from "Son"
                                                   Pavel Antonkolsky
                                                   1943

See Part 2 - So much hard frost



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