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September 11, A Prose Poem

We can all recite this litany: Fire engulfing that panoptic view. Closely spaced columns losing resistance. A final spasm into dust.

Yet we can never know just where the failure began.

Like the woman standing ankle-deep in white dust, reading yesterday’s newspaper, tries to reconcile “Newborn Abandoned in Central Park,” “Slump Is Here, But Rebound In The Cards,” and “Serena Marches Into Semifinals,” so we instruct ourselves, assemble coherent narratives from scraps of paper and shards of buckled steel.


We look for the correct geography to precisely position our national pieta — the narrative demands serviceable villains. We painstakingly map the latitude and longitude of an evil axis and blowback, of failures of imagination and strategic imbecilities, of impact zones and malfunctioning radio repeater systems.

Together we compute the calculus of personal grief and collective loss, share the sacramental ground where so many of the lost have yet to be found.

This abrupt audition makes survivors of us all, sifting through the rubble for relics of someone we loved, some hero we thought we were. And reminds us history is not a line but an accident of time and place and intent.

We are made equal in this sacrificial moment by fear and survival, where we are forever walking each other home in the dark across the Brooklyn Bridge.


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