Wednesday, April 25, 2007

In Memoriam: VTI

I have just returned from our annual faculty retreat. During one session I was reflecting on the shootings at Virginia Tech (my mind was straying a bit). The words below are the result.

A couple of words of explanation. Last Monday the university resumed classes, one week after the shooting. They rang a bell 32 times, one for each of the victims. The number four is associated with bad luck in many Asian countries, since in Chinese it sounds like the word for Death. With those thoughts in mind, my reflections:


Thirty-two tolls
The bell rang thirty-two times
Thirty-two, young and old
The bell rang thirty-two as all fell silent and listened
For thirty-two tolls.

Thirty-three dead
And thirty-two tolls.

Four fours, twice repeated
The Chinese number of death
Squared and repeated
Death takes us all, one day.

Eleven threes: a trinity of twelve less one
Three sets of flawed disciples

Thirty-three dead
And thirty-two tolls.


A family grieves, whose son
Died many times as he died.

A killer justly censured
Turned away from help in others' hands
And filled his hands with thirty-two others.

Caught between cultures, identities, a fractured self
Exploding in misery and rage
Thirty-two tolls from the bell
I grieve also the thirty-third.

Daryl Climenhaga, 24 April 2007


KGMom said...

I did not know the number 4 is considered bad luck in Asian societies.
This is the kind of poem Aunt Leoda would like. She works with numbers, looking at relationship, multiplies, etc. My mind is not that agile.
A creative way to memorialize these sad tragic needless deaths.
(The faculty retreat was. . .boring?)

Climenheise said...

Actually the faculty retreat was good: my mind had been working over the numbers consciously and sub-consciously for a little while. Then suddenly it all came together.