A poem for Michael Martin

A poem for Michael Martin

Last night I attended a benefit concert, thinking that cello and piano and poetry would soothe my weary soul from the events of the past month–from my son’s diving accident, to my best friend’s car accident, to the tragedy in Brattleboro.

I had been writing incessantly for over a week since the shooting at the Co-op, and with my latest post, I felt that I might be finished.  Instead, I found my anguish stirred rather than soothed by last night’s performance, particularly when the poetry of the Romanian poet Eminescu was read.

detail, Dore, visipix.com

Unto the Star

‘Tis such a long way to the star
Rising above our shore
It took its light to come so far
Thousands of years and more.

It may have long died on its way
Into the distant blue
And only now appears its ray
To shine for us as true.

We see its icon slowly rise
And climb the canopy;
It lived when still unknown to eyes,
We see what ceased to be.

And so it is when yearning love
Dies into depth of night:
Extinct its flame, still glows above
And haunts us with its light.

~Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889)/translated by Adrian Sahlean

Kelly Salasin, August 20, 2011

(To see the full collection of posts and comments on BFC Tragedy, click here.)

Dear Richard,

Dear Richard,

Dear Richard,

Despite the truth that you have stolen something precious from ALL of us, I grieve for YOU.

Though I have been wronged many times in my life, and never chosen murder, still–I ache for you.

You must have lost your mind and your heart and your soul to proceed the way you did.

No doubt “the issues” that provoked you triggered some unhealed trauma inside of you.

Your vision must have narrowed so tightly around an “enemy” that you did not see Michael’s new wife Jennifer, or the rest of his family, or the rest of his days.

But what about your co-workers? What about Ian who spoke with you just before you entered Michael’s office? 

What of Diane who found you out back behind the Co-op after the shooting?

What about all your fellow staff members present that morning?

What about all of us who have ever worked at the Co-op, or shopped there?

Did you want to rob us all as well?

Did you know that your act would be felt as far away as Thailand, and in every co-op around the country?

Did you know that you would steal sleep from strangers, summer vacation days from children,
romantic getaways from couples?

Did you want blood spilled in the place that has fed so many so well?

As I read the expressions of support on the Co-op’s Facebook page, I am stunned by how many people have been affected by your choice. I don’t think any of us, including you, could have imagined it so.

Because I don’t know Michael, it is  you for whom I grieve when I see you in the courtroom, locked in shackles, instead of on the tennis court at South Pond with a racket in your hand.

And what about Meg?

You must have considered your beloved.

Michael Martin lost his life, but you lost… everything.

You have given it up to rage.

You have given up your wife, your community, your sense of who you are and who you can be.

My eleven year old now knows a murderer. He has collected the balls that you have hit into the water where he swims.

Last night as I tucked him into bed, 300 miles away from you, he said,

“Mom, Vermont doesn’t have the death penalty, right?”


Kelly Salasin, August 11, 2011

whose sons have been lifelong Co-op members

This is the second post on the Brattleboro Food Co-op tragedy, click here for others.

Once Upon a Time…

Once Upon a Time…

welcometovermontThere was a single lucid moment in the month of May, 1993, when desperation fused with destiny and our dream to move to the mountains was winged.

Two weeks earlier, I lost our first baby at the end of the first trimester. Suddenly the good jobs, the benefits, the proximity to family, even the sea, lost its hold on us.

In one feverish week, we blanketed the Green Mountain State with our resumes, asking: Will you have us?

A lone school in a small town answered back.

Although its name lacked the kind of charm we’d hoped for (bringing to mind the huge metropolis in Delaware), we were relieved find Wilmington in our atlas in the southern most part of the state; which to our minds meant less winter. (We had yet to realize that Mount Snow was its closest neighbor.)

We spent the weekend before my interview at my husband grandmother’s place in Adams, Massachusetts. Over the years, we’d looked forward to our long weekends in the Berkshires, soaking up the view of Mount Greylock from Anna’s kitchen at the top of Anthony Street; and the occasional, flirtatious jaunts into nearby Vermont. While we never spent very long in the Green Mountain State, it stirred something inside us. Vermont was planting a seed.

That seed sat dormant until a handful of years later when my sister-in-law suggested we check out the hip town of Brattleboro. Though it wasn’t love at first sight, we did decide to drive across the state, on its southern most route, and came across  a quaint, snowy village with beautiful little shops.

“This is the kind of place we could live!” we both agreed, though we never looked any further into it, because when we returned home to the shore, another dream had been realized.

A simple two lines and our attention immediately shifted from adventure to nesting. We even began to look for a house at the beach, something we had long avoided for fear we’d never leave for the mountains. We put on our name on the home daycare waiting list. We found something called a midwife. I bought lots of books. My bought a stuffed bunny. My  mother in law a tiny pair of moccasins.

Thus I return to the beginning of this tale when one of the most excruciating losses of lives gave wings to a dream that keeps on giving.

The day that we pulled into town for my interview at Deerfield Valley Elementary, we had no recollection of ever seeing Wilmington before. Perhaps our minds were preoccupied with how much depended on this day. Perhaps the seasons here transformed everything. It was  a lush early June now, and it had been snowy February then. More than likely, it was also that our entire beings had been transformed in the sixth months since we’d passed through this place–at once thrust into the prospect of parenthood and all the space that this shapes, then abruptly regurgitated… back to the beginning, to start our lives anew.

We returned to Vermont with clear eyes.

Approaching Wilmington, this time from the west, our awareness moved from the village to the valley itself–greeted first by the Deerfield River whose strength is harnessed to provide energy for Vermont, and then by the great Harriman Reservoir where once the town of Medburyville thrived.

We felt the embrace of this narrow valley, cradled within its hillsides, its fields and woodlands. The welcome continued as we traveled up Route 100 to a greater expanse of sky and view, past the North Branch of the river in its quiet repose alongside the handsome Wheeler Farm.

Our broken hearts began to stir…

As we pulled into the parking lot at the school, we realized that we had seen it once before, many, many years earlier. We had even stopped to say how “right” it looked and how nice it would be to work a place like this, nestled in the woods as it was. My younger sister was at New England college at the time, and on one of trips up to the Berkshires, suggested we meet somewhere in between–to ski–at a place called Mount Snow.

There in the school parking lot among the trees and mountains and streams of Vermont, we broke into wondrous laughter. Fate’s hand played.

Despite 199 other applicants, I was hired. Soon after my husband and I settled into in a little farm house by the woods (an answer to another dream, long forgotten inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder.)

A year later we conceived a child who became our first son.

We lived happily ever after…

Well, it wasn’t that simple.

There were realtors and bears and woodstoves, and lots and lots of snow.

And of course, there is always more dreams to dream and losses to bear.

But once upon a time, we asked Vermont if she would have us, and she resoundingly replied, “Yes!”