8 December, 1980


By Jill Jupen

We lived on a dirt road that year

surrounded by Jersey cows,

beauty, and snow. Unimaginable

snow for the start of December.

The baby was five months old,

the best age until the next

best age came along.

You came through

the dark and falling snow

and, standing in the kitchen,

stamping the outdoors from your boots,

said, “Did you hear? Another hippie gone.”

I had heard and I hated

you for that as the baby

sat in his highchair eating Cheerios,

because I had cried off and on all day.

Nothing would ever be the same,

until one day it would be.

The news of what had happened

in the entrance of the amazing

building near the subway exit at

72nd Street and Central Park West

blew around the world like

an evil wind because we dared

to love a man we didn’t know.

When at 10:50 pm a nervous guy,

glistening with sweat and screaming

freak-spew, carrying “Double Fantasy”

under his arm and “The Catcher In the Rye”

in his back pocket, emptied his gun,

things changed. People began naming their

babies Dakota and reading the back

of albums trying to decide which song

was the right song, and how to trade

one life for another and how to stop

running in circles looking for a way

to continue to take it all so personally.

Jill Jupen lives in Vineyard Haven with her husband, many dogs, and lots of books.