Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Remember Nine-Eleven

Not going straight home after work that day,
But down Princeton Avenue to Cherokee Lane,
That’s what I remember,
It was warm and I bounded up the steps,
Those short bi-level steps like so many times before,
To my parents living room and there on the television,
CNN blanketing the scenes of tragedy, and Mom excitedly anxious,
Not terrified,
Like me a bit giddy at the event that is catastrophe,
That pause on the norm, that escape hatch from the mundane,
Poised on the couch, remote in hand, her eyes so glued,
But commenting casually on the burning buildings,
That’s where I saw Building 7 go down,
In the living room I’d spent eighteen Christmas and New Years in,
Where we’d gathered more frequently in younger years,
And we talked about the attacks and the smoke and the Bible,
About Babylon the Great, the End times, the Antichrist,
Before I took leave to head back up north,
And that’s what I remember about 9/11,
My mother alive in that big green house,
And my family tentatively closer in most ways,
Ten weeks later I’d go on a first date with my future wife,
And weeks after that mom and Don would abandon that house,
A year later she’d be diagnosed officially, 
Though we’d had our suspicions,
Ever since 2000 when symptoms became obvious,
Her condition becoming prohibitive and conspicuous,
She had discovered computers, and the internet, and technology,
Going online to find support communities,
And I was married and had my son on the way when,
We learned she was clearly terminally ill,
So that January of 2004, after three years of fighting,
Two years of chemo and six months of horror,
In the cold of the winter, the war on Iraq,
In the shadow of all that was crumbling around us,
We gathered to lay her to rest from our lives,
Where my second son would be born and not even know her,
Where my sister would divorce and my brother would implode,
And these are the things I remember about 9/11,
Not the World Trade Center,
Not the planes and the Pentagon,
Not Rumsfeld or Cheney or Condoleezza Rice,
But Mom sitting there alive in the house we’d grown up in,
Clever, intelligent, naïve at times, and cruel,
And laughing,
Holding so much of herself in that it hurt,
So different the world, and ten years are gone,
I remember that day, remember the way,
When calamity came, I went straight home,
To see Mom,
To talk about everything that was happening.

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