"September Eleventh" by Penny Cagan

September Eleventh
by Penny Cagan

I could tell you what it was like to be there -
the sky black with bodies - humanity colluding with gravity -
people jumping in pairs - linked lives spent working together
in towers so tall it must have felt like heaven to sit at a desk
and watch the city transform with the light of the seasons -
the moment sealed windows were liberated with office furniture,
the moment of shattered glass
when doomed colleagues linked hands and decided to jump -
the early fall air washed with morning coolness -
the escape from the rattling of downtown, suffocating smoke, the heat -
to be a witness to all this, on the ground, not quite safe,
but spared from all but the watching,
yes, I could tell you what it was like,
but that would require the crafting of a narrative
from the singed paper raining down like confetti,
the sky blackened with terrorist graffiti,
the towers stricken, and then stricken again,
their dark shadows erased from the sky,
my clothes soaked with dust and ash -
that gorgeous autumn day - the kind that makes late August
bearable because of the promise of its crisp breath,
and the light, the pure sweet morning light
of September Eleventh,
the event that I could speak of -
if there was something here to say.

September was my favorite month
the sun suddenly different than it was the day before,
somehow gentler and sunken in the sky,
its reflection elongated against the towers,
languorous August now in retreat,
both the unease and promise of longer nights,
the new season upon us with all that it brings,
the residual memories from our school days,
the purchase of new school supplies -
the lure of a sharpened pencil,
a notebook neatly divided into subjects,
the fine lines of green graph paper,
the anticipation of unopened textbooks,
the comfort of a light woolen sweater
slung low on the shoulders,
slung low like the month itself -
hope embedded in a porous rubber eraser.

©2001, Penny Cagan


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