Thursday, October 13, 2011

'Sept. 11, 2004' by Amorak Huey

For a while, in the newsroom, we stopped

using words like “bomb” and “slaughter”

in sports headlines. We complained

less about micro-managing editors,

weak coffee, system crashes,

incompetence in the composing room,

we pitched in and made our deadlines.

We felt like, no, not quite a family,

but a team, at least. We looked around and were glad

no one in this room believed

in anything with enough fury

to shave his earthly body clean

and plunge us all headlong into the milky fire.

It was an exciting time. We did not pity the planet,

we felt renewed with possibility, knowing

all our best love stories

have a backdrop of crisis, calamity, cholera.

We counted our blessings,

counted our fingers and toes,

counted ourselves lucky

to survive, we felt proud

we were first to see this date as the proper noun

it would become, we were responsible

for its becoming, we were patriotic

because we didn’t flinch

at the risen cost of gasoline. We were resilient.

We kept the Friday Doughnut Club alive, fearing

to do otherwise was to let someone else win,

all we had to do was wait

for time to pass, for a holiday, even a somber one

the kind marked with a slow parade

and black crepe paper,

to be born in tragedy’s muck. Three years,

turns out, suffices for most of us. We made love

and war, we had babies due in June,

we miscarried on Thanksgiving,

football on TV downstairs and our future

bleeding into a cold toilet one purple clot at a time,

our bodies helpless with cramps.

There’s more than one anniversary today.

Twenty years ago in Leicester, England,

before that Monday’s first cup of coffee was gone,

someone unlocked DNA’s inner chamber,

uncovering the unique self

written in that knotted helix,

the double strand that determines

guilt or innocence, that decides before birth

whether we are strong enough

to live in the first place

or to meet death with the angry word

of god burning like jet fuel on our tongues.

"Sept. 11, 2004" appeared in Crab Orchard Revew 13.1 (Winter/Spring 2008).

No comments:

Post a Comment