Herbert Woodward Martin, After the Shooting

Herbert Woodward Martin

I am not sure where the conversation began, but I do know that a reporter for
a national news organization thoughtfully wrote: The grandfather began the
evening prayers with: We should remember the pain the killer’s family must
now live with. We all have absorbed some portion of their pain into our presence. It
was not a portion of the harvest we expected to gather today. But it is a part nevertheless.
Still we must hold steady to forgive because it what our Heavenly Father commanded and
what He would have us do. We must be innocent in our accepting of the pain others
perpetuate upon us. We must be cognizant of our own guilt, in this matter just as the Second
thief was in realizing his own failure
. His words rolled steadily from his heart and
he uttered them from his mouth like the turning of the wheels on their buggy
as it was often to take them into town. He further said: We will not allow this
particular pain to deprive us of our dignity as we grieve this erasure.
We will meet this horror face to face and it will serve us as an honorable people
He said all of this to the rapt attention of the children while his oldest daughter
made careful preparation with her tears. Her duty had brought her to this burial
point of saying farewell to her first and third daughters. She would wrap them
in white winding cloth as the community required. She would take a memento
of hair from each offspring. There would be no photographs left to testify that they
were ever alive. She would keep the hair in a locket around her neck. This would be
her only private remembrance. She would kiss each sterile face goodbye. Her husband
would make two graves as duty required even though the earth resisted each stroke
of his shovel. So grandfather , daughter, mother, father, husband and wife each
turned according to the wheels of duty. After the preparations were all accomplished, the
minutes, hours, days and months would turn themselves into years of snow. Nothing of this
day would be left the reporter wrote. An eradicating whiteness would infect even the

Bio: Herbert Woodward Martin’s newest collection is titled On The Flyleaf published by Bottom Dog Press in Huron Ohio. He has taught for three decades at The University of Dayton and was that institution’s Poet-In-Residence. He is retired now and spends his time writing, revising and giving readings of his work and that of Paul Laurence Dunbar. His selected poems is titled Inscribing My Name.

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