Poem recalls Kennedy assassination

Towson University professor

November 16, 2013|By Jean Marbella, The Baltimore Sun

Seeing footage of CBS newsman Walter Cronkite, his voice catching as he announces Preisdent John F. Kennedy's death, sends a chill through Diane Scharper, a poet and author who teaches writing at Towson University.

"Even now, it brings tears to your eyes," said Scharper, who was a student at the College of Notre Dame when Kennedy was shot in November 1963.

She and her advisor, Sister Kathleen Marie Engers, had been in a workroom just off a small theater on campus when they learned the news.

Scharper remembers going to the campus library, where the person who checked out books told her Kennedy had died.

"I was sure she was wrong, and he would be OK," Scharper said. Learning she was the one who was wrong turned the normally garrulous Scharper inward. She barely talked to anyone and simply parked herself in front of the television to "grieve and mourn."

When she broke her self-imposed silence, it was through a poem that became part of her senior thesis:

November 22, 1963

For John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963)

We have no words unless you call

The wind's wail a word unless you

Hear a word as the wind whips past

The bushes unless the hiss of dry

Leaves has a word. Is

There a word for love's bloom

Being murdered when it blooms? Is

There a word to say the swish of

The bullet entering, to mouth

The blood rushing? Life, we said, is

Followed by sorrow. But then we were

Not saying so much as crying. In the

End, we became our cry, and he was a black

Veil wafting downward.

Jean.marbella@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/jean_marbella

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