American PietaJoseph Ross
On John Filo’s photograph of Mary Vecchio kneeling beside Jeffrey Miller, who along with Allison Krause, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder were killed by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. She has been mourning for forty years. Mary Vecchio still smells the acid anger of gunshots, still hears students screaming like slaps of shock, still kisses the ground, wanting to bury herself, pressing her body low into the college sidewalk hoping the National Guard’s bullets need more altitude than she does on that day when the protest became the war. But she sees her friend, Jeffrey Miller, lying flat, face down, arms at his side, in a spreading pool of his own bleeding country. Mindful that bullets sometimes become seeds, she blooms into sorrow. Her priestly arms rise and open in horror, in rage, in a question only America can answer, but never will.
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