On Becoming Aware of Death

On Becoming Aware of Death

Maybe it was the year the Challenger failed
on TV, maybe the year they showed the standing
man in front of the tank, his hand pale
against the olive-drab paint in the square in Beijing

and he refused to move. He’s crushed under
tread and they showed clips on the news
for a week, or maybe two, but over and over
again. These were not it, but I still had curfew

at dark, and my parents watched ABC
because they knew and trusted World News Tonight
with Peter Jennings. It was the night he
showed the men kneeling down blindfolded in line

and said something about gross images,
then black and white exploding blood and heads.