I saw a maple drenched in gold.
The wind was tickling its inside, wrestling loose a great batch leaves.
They lingered for a moment in mid-air, dancing round and around, and then drifted upward, reminding me of souls.
The other morning I looked down at my Life cereal and for a
moment every piece looked like a broken bit of building a
pile of flooded rubble.
And dear God this one half-bitten piece reminded me of that one edge of building still left standing.
It was the same crooked, jagged shape.
Im not crazy.
I thought Id moved on or at least put up the shields.
But then we were driving outside was dying
While Guns N Roses sang "Knockin on Heavens Door."
This white autumn light filtered through the clouds and shrouded the hills.
Through the fog for a moment I saw everything.
Life stabbed me.
"This is how it is now," was all I could think.
This is how it is.
As the concrete ran beside me and the trees flew by.
We spotted the low-flying, single engine plane at the same
"Terrorists," Chris said matter-of-factly a moment later.
I already thought that, I replied.
Beat you to it.
Then I wondered: is this the new normal?
The new absurd.
Not just the fear, but how effortlessly weve accepted it.
At the Anthrax Update
The strangeness of it struck me about halfway through the meeting.
Here we were, ears pricked and pens poised, hanging onto every morsel of fact, as Dr. Rauch, the "bioterrorism expert" taught us about inhalation anthrax, smallpox vaccine, and the threat to our nations water and food supply.
I looked over at John Whittaker, manager of the Mail Room.
One day we had screamed over the phone over which of us was responsible for ordering envelopes.
That seems so long ago, dont you think, John? I asked
He was busy taking mental notes on how to protect his staff from strange white powder.
Does anyone think this is crazy? I wanted to call out.
Does anyone else think this is a very long, bizarre dream?
On the other side of the room, I heard a familiar voice. I
looked over and saw her.
"This keeps me awake at night," she was saying. "Im scared health care is next. Im afraid to come to work here. Are we safe?"
The last time wed talked, Id been sitting on the exam room table, shivering in a gown. Her son was going to play in a golf tournament. She had laughed at my hypochondria.
Chris, Chris, Chris. Is that you? I wondered.
You cant be afraid. Im the one whos always afraid. Say youre not scared.
This cant be, that I want to walk across the room and console you.
None of this can be, but yet, it seems to be
Even though Im looking for the cameras, waiting for the scene to end, once someone calls "cut!"
Its Halloween. Cold and rainy.
Theres a helicopter overhead.
Maybe its nothing.
Down the street this house flies three American flags over their graveyard, webs and skeletons.
A little boy dressed like a fireman sloshes through wet leaves and tries to beat the dark.
There was nothing to be afraid of, really.
So why was my heart pounding as I pushed the flimsy tape into my VCR?
Why fear a removed moment?
Before it all happened on September 11, early that morning
Chris had been on some floor of the hospital filming residents
And now seven weeks later wed finally found the tape.
The footage was amazingly mundane
Two woman and one man, standing over charts, talking. Five mere minutes of tape.
Yet I watched with absolute fascination
I watched like I was God.
You dont know whats going to happen,
You dont know what going to happen.
Seeing them laughing and sipping coffee, this sadness crushed
I wanted to go back.
I wanted to warn them.
I wanted to scream or shake them or just whisper please.
Enjoy every one of these last weightless little moments.
Theres this voice in my head screaming "What are
Its the bottom of the ninth and Im biting my nails, praying the Yankees win.
This goes against 26 years of ingrained tradition, against everything that flows in my blood.
Am I really doing this?
I feel as if its someone else watching and hoping against hope for them,
Someone very different than the person who almost bought a Yankees suck T-shirt at
Fenway Park last May.
It is me.
You cant come in, the sign tells us.
You cant walk beneath the ancient maples, down this winding road to the green of a town that died long ago.
My dad first took me here when I was small.
Ive walked back several times over the years, drinking in the silence and beauty, slightly haunted at the site of cellar holes and empty paths.
But now we cant come in.
They have to protect the water.
I stare beyond the gates for a moment, shivering in the breeze.
Then we drive away.
All Over Again
A plane fell out of the sky again the other day.
Its amazing how you can resolve to let go of something, how you can be so close to letting it grow fuzzy in your mind rather than reliving the details, when you get jolted back in a matter of seconds.
My racing heart and the blaring television and smoke pouring
from the New York sky
All over again.
The only thing thats missing is surprise.
"Did they always have the ticker?" Dan asked as we
stared at CNN.
News tidbits danced across the blue strip at the bottom.
I followed them until I grew dizzy.
Dan mouthed as he read.
"I dont know," I answered, gazing at the screen.
Neither of us could remember.
Its gray and misting outside and I feel a little sad.
Im wondering if theyre out there, whoever they are, just waiting.
Are they waiting for us to start living again?
I was reading this article awhile ago.
A New York police officer was weeping, asking
"How could they do this to our beautiful city?"
Thats what Im feeling, thinking about the faceless
How could they do this to my country?
Im not the type to clench my fists in defiance and vow that the American spirit will not be crushed.
Lets be real. Were broken.
I know we will get better. I just wonder about the scar.
In the thick fog the city has disappeared.
Is this how it is for New York?
People keep looking, saying, I know this was the spot, but already the memory is murky.
The fog is one thing, but to search on a stunningly clear day
and to still see nothing what is that like?
I cant understand, so I stand and squint in the mist and try to imagine.
This morning the Today show began with more news of war
deaths and bombs and searches for evil men.
At Ground Zero, above the rubble, they lit a Christmas tree and then a menorah.
On the screen, a red-cheeked baby girl who lost her dad looked up at the lights.
Behind her, men in yarmulkes sang songs that resonated in the still, cold night.
I tried not to cry as I buttoned my coat to leave.
At the news desk Ann Curry shuffled her papers and looked to Katie Couric.
"The news is just so sad today," she said.
Stepping out into the morning, I felt warmed somehow.
I think it was just knowing someone else understood.
Where We Were September 10
I dont believe in ghosts, but I feel them as my feet pad
down this softly-lit hallway: shades of an earlier me.
Laughter lingers in the corners, along with all that ceased when this hallway was christened: "where I spent the afternoon before."
This ordinary place is doomed in my mind: never a mere transition to another room, but rather, another life.
What I Made
Watching the Yankees in the World Series on Classic Sports,
I play a secret, silent game.
If I let now fade into the background, if I turn up the volume and have the murmur of the crowd surround me, then Ive brought the city to life again.
And I can recapture that blissful, simple joy of only worrying the ball will not be caught, or leave the park.
I attach myself to this distant October evening.
I close my eyes and feel: the crack of the bat and the nip in the air; people hoping, the towers standing watch, and the sweet smell of dying leaves.
When the war began, we were driving in western Kentucky on a
Home was a thousand miles away.
Even the light seemed a stranger, the way it softened the edges of everything; the way it poured across the fields.
We listened to the radio, leaning unconsciously forward,
closer to the crackles.
Strange thoughts tumbled around in my mind.
I longed for the ocean. I could see us on the map; too much land on either side.
Were we trapped? Running away from or to something?
I kept stopping inside to check if everything was real,
because I could, in the background, hear my own voice:
"Mom, you know I had this dream?
And we were driving in the middle of Kentucky for some reason.
All of this crazy stuff was going on.
We were bombing someone.
I think it was the end of the world."
But no, there was the cool of window glass as my cheek pressed
against it, and the sour taste of orange juice on my tongue, and
the crumpled up newspapers under my sneakers.
We were really here.
What to do then?
I busied myself looking for road signs.
I marveled at bizarre jungle vines growing along the endless strip of highway.
And when we stopped briefly at a gas station, something mildly funny sent me into hysterics.
I let myself laugh more than the moment deserved.
I teetered on the edge of that thin line between laughter and tears, chasing away the strangeness, chasing away the fear.
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