I went to Assumption College in Worcester, Mass (class of 1980). There’s a duck pond in the front of the campus as you drive in. At least I think it’s still there. Kids would end up in there from time to time, either on purpose or by getting tossed in by older kids. Usually there was drinking involved but not always. One night in 1979 a group of boys ran down to the pond in their underwear and jumped in, then ran back up to the dorms where they came from. After a short while, they noticed that one of the group hadn’t returned. By the time they ran back down, the boy was dead.
I remember it being unclear just how he had died. There was a lot of speculation, maybe he hit his head, or had a stroke. I don’t think I ever really knew for sure. It was hard to drive by that pond after that without thinking of him floating in there, even all these years later. I visited a few years ago and it was the first thought I had driving in.
I’ve written a few poems about my time at Assumption, the people I hung out with, some of the college madness of the day. I was surprised when I wrote this one to be honest. It must have haunted me all these years later. I think maybe because I was so reckless in those days; it could have happened to me on more than one occasion. All the silly pranks I was part of could have easily gone wrong. This kid was pretty low key, responsible in a way I wasn’t. When I wrote the poem, I wanted to try to imagine what he might have been thinking in that fateful moment, not to blame anybody for leaving him there, but to just be in that moment with all its unfortunate drama.
– Kevin Carey