Religion 101

by Gail Goepfert

 

I thought of her, the girl

on my dorm hall named Nan,

slit wrists midyear, disappeared,

came back–-

never quite the same.

And the boy.

 

It was 1968. Spring and fever

had kicked in.

Old Main. Lecture hall.

Required class for freshmen:

Envision windows opening

on goliath hinges

during class most of fall

and spring, gaping

to the Mississippi’s grand sweep

under Arsenal Bridge.

 

The professor not yet arrived.

Seemed like any other day.

The boy, a guy in jeans standing

in the window frame up front.

Peering out. Not the only one.

The window, the ledge, the vista

on fire with alive.

The guy’s stance half-in

half-out, there and not.

Just like that, the jeans guy jumps.

From three tall flights up.

A stomach-warping thud.

Old Main’s concrete sidewalk below.

Numb silence within.

Red lights reel.

A flood of chaos.

 

And then we’re shut out.

Forever. No dialogue, no update.

Back in class the next day.

No word of this jumper,

this boy—

hushed,

like wind through husk.