I’m Cathy. I’m a Virginian and I grew up during the years of the Vietnam War. I was in the generation too late, thank goodness, to actually go to war, but as a child I watched the horrors of that war on television. I also watched news coverage of student protests on college campuses all over America and was really affected by the Kent State massacre. I’ve been living and teaching English in South Korea for almost a year now and I am trying to explore as much of Asia as I can while I’m here. This journey is one I’ve been wanting to take for a long time. So, here I go!
Here is a poem I wrote about a photograph taken in the aftermath of the Kent State shootings:
KENT STATE FREEZE FRAME
A young woman kneels, face jumbled, mouth open, howling in disbelief. In her daisy bellbottoms, she grabs a faceless friend in a fringe jacket. A white scarf hangs lopsided around her neck like a noose. The acrid smell of gunpowder and blood blossoms in the air. She belts out her death wail. I traipse by and gape, as captured by her screaming agony as by the dead blue-jean boy lying face down in blood and concrete. He’s stretched out straight as a battle line, like my boyfriend when he sleeps on the beach. Someone tells me they also killed two other boys and a girl. Before she was shot, she slipped a flower into the barrel of a guardsman’s rifle with a wistful smile – “Flowers are better than bullets.” Dazed and foggy, I’m on my way to Biology lab, not even part of the protest. I hate the whole Vietnam, Cambodia scene, but my God, it’s on the other side of the world. Frankly, I don’t want to get involved. Now, here it is on my campus and I want to kneel with that girl and wail for my massacred fellow students and all the boys blown apart in Vietnam, and for fathers who think the way mine does – that those damn hippies deserve to die.
~ by Cathy Birdsong Dutchak July 25, 2001