The One That I Cried As I Wrote

I was in a writing class recently with a woman who said that 9/11 didn't affect her. She said this after I read a poem with veiled but evocative references to the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. "That didn't affect me," she said. We all looked at her. "September 11th, I mean. It didn't affect me." We looked at her some more. She probably said something, but I was too busy trying to convince myself not to reach across the table and squeeze her neck till her eyes popped out of her head.

It didn't affect you? Then it must have been a nice day after all. You must have been able to enjoy the pale blue sky and the way that 70 degrees can feel so breezy-warm on your skin as summer fades away. Or maybe you didn't notice Mother Nature's calm serenity at all, since it was just another day, with nothing to startle you out of the monotony, offering nothing dark to hold up against the clear morning sky.

You live near Boston, where the planes took a final flight, but you must not have listened to the radio or turned on the television, because it did not affect you. I assume you never saw the gruff, middle aged firefighter standing before the entrance to the second tower as he told the reporter he was doing what he had to do, and that was all there was to it. Surely you didn't see him go in. Surely you didn't wonder later, naively, what had happened to him.

You must not have seen a little girl, like little girls all over the country, walk into a living room with the television on to puzzle at the sight of specks falling from the 100th floor in graceful adherence to gravity, sometimes two specks at a time. A little girl with so much confusion and knowing behind her eyes when she said, "were those people?"

It goes without saying that you didn't cry for weeks the way you hadn't cried in years; didn't hold a candle outside your front door or chant USA at the bar as the band played its final set. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.

I know you weren't there. Neither was I, or anyone I knew directly. For you, that's not affecting. For me, it means that, forever, airplanes in a clear blue sky herald nothing but night.


Blogger Carrie said...

My father worked in Tower 1 on the 98th floor. He was there until January of 2001. The company went bankrupt and laid everyone off. If it was not for that company screwing up and losing all their money, my father would be dead.

8:33 AM  

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