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As schoolmates we shared the same count
of years, a ninth-grade teacher, the cracked
sidewalks of our streets. The only wrestler
I had ever known, red-headed as any legend’s
Scottish hero, winning strong before he lost
his spine to cancer. The first I’d learned of such
sorry play, that coward’s stunt — Death
come from behind, pinning youth to the ground.
by Therese L. Broderick
(An artist’s statement about this poem appears as the first comment.)

About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

One response »

  1. poetryaboutart

    ARTIST’S STATEMENT about this poem
    Fact & Fiction ~
    This poem is an elegy, responding to the death of one of my classmates decades ago, the first time I was aware of someone my own age dying. I remember his affliction as having been spinal cancer. We lived in the same town, but not on the same street ; I intend for the phrase ”our streets” to encompass the town. In this poem, I assume he won at least one of his matches, but I don’t remember for sure. His last name was Higgins.
    Sound & Sense ~
    Instead of saying “my age” I use the phrase “the same count / of years” for its resonance with the sport of wrestling. Also because I share the same eventual fate as he : my days are numbered, counted. For its resonance with both wrestling and with a doomed spine, I use “cracked / sidewalks” instead of any other detail about the neighborhood. I use “pinning to the ground” for its resonance with burials. I use “red-headed” to provide one visual image of the boy, a detail which suggests (as it might in a folk tale) that he was marked from the start for an unusual life, a different fate. It’s possible this poem comes to me now because I recently saw an independent film about teenage gang members and protesters, some of whom were unfairly shot from behind by policemen.


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