In Consideration, September 11
It was early, early in the morning,
before the reflection of a plane appeared
on the windows of the Towers.
That day most did what they did
They showered, shaved, deordorized,
caught a train, a subway, a bus, a taxi.
But not without noting how beautiful the sky,
how clear the air,
how bright the day.
When the rush of routine matters renders
a morning's movements nearly invisible,
we take little notice.
With no siren to alert us to our breath,
we make no plans to die.
Someone arrived to work on time,
sat at his desk, as he did each day,
Monday through Friday.
hit a snooze button
chasing down a dream.
And though his employer
at the Windows on the World restaurant
had given him the day off to celebrate,
someone went to work on his birthday
for the overtime pay,
to get a little ahead.
Someone missed her train
when her daughter's sore throat
forced phone calls
to the school and her office.
Someone signed a permission slip
his son left on the kitchen counter
for a field trip to the National History Museum.
Someone held open the door
for the woman behind him.
Someone bought a newspaper
from the vendor in the lobby,
and, for the next eighty-seven floors,
scanned the headlines in the elevator:
"School Dress Codes vs. a Sea of Bare Flesh";
"In a Nation of Early Risers, Morning TV is a Hot Market";
"Key Leaders Talk of Possible Deals to Revive Economy:
Bush is Under Pressure".
And later, after the building had inhaled jet fuel,
someone on the forty-fifth floor,
reached over the cubicle divider
for the hand of her co-worker, and together
they joined the single-file of others
descending the staircase
in the darkness
and the smoke
and the silence,
While others wearing uniforms
ascended the staircase, single-file
and with purpose.
Someone on floor one hundred three
called 911 to report a fire,
to report smoke,
to report difficulty breathing,
to report stairs blocked,
and asked to call his mother.
On the sixty-third floor,
someone who could walk
stayed with someone in a wheelchair
as they waited for help.
And on a floor above the wreckage
shaped by jet ripping steel and glass,
someone wrapped her purse around her shoulder
like a sling, hoping,
when she stepped out
into the air,
that her driver's license would
make it easier to identify her
Someone who loved her, she who jumped,
looked at the cloudless sky that morning,
and saw the color of her eyes.
Nothing can dilute this grief,
Except, perhaps, this:
That day strangers in the street held each other.
And before the tsunami of dust and ash.
ash and dust,
mingled their voices into a choir
of words in flight
and words on fire,
thousands made phone calls
to say, "I love you,"
to say, "Don't worry",
to say, "Thank you".
There were no calls to challenge,
no messages left that spoke of hate or revenge.
Is this then what we mean by Human Nature?
Not that we are violent,
that we maim, hurt and hate one another,
But by our Nature,
our final thoughts
are of love and gratitude:
I love you.
Thanks for everything.
I love you.
I love you
Know this: I love you.