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Poem: "Over"

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(September 11)

All these years now, and it’s over, isn’t it,

the hardly sleeping, the dreams

that aren’t dreams, and the waking

weight of it? Yes, it’s over, long over.

 

Aren’t you glad you didn’t see them

in the flesh, the jumpers? Aren’t you glad

you didn’t take those calls, the we’re

dying up here calls? The I just have

 

time to say I love you calls?

When the first tower fell on your TV,

you said, Of course: How could I not

see that it would fall? But you couldn’t,

 

could you, see that it would fall?

And then you knew the other.

How many months was it that you fell

a thousand feet deafened by the sunlight

 

on the rooftops, on the river, by the

free howl of flying, or breathless in the

glittering, powdering tons of steel and glass,

of struts and desks and door frames,

 

dry wall, printers, fax machines, laptops,

coffee cups, fell in a gray storm of shredding,

shredding as you fell, separating, a cloud-roar

of black fire and a swarm of edges. Why

 

didn’t you take your daughter to school or

have another bagel somewhere along the way,

show up an hour late like the lucky ones?

Such a beautiful day. Clear enough

 

all down the East Coast for even

a poor pilot, orienting by the Pentagon’s

black plume, to come in low over

the Lincoln Memorial, just miss

 

the Washington Monument and vaporize

the Capitol dome. You whispered, It can’t

get worse than this. You knew, you know

it can always get worse than this.

--Ron Smith

Editor's note: Ron Smith, Poet Laureate of Virginia 2014-2016, is the author of four books of poetry, including "Its Ghostly Workshop" and the forthcoming "The Humility of the Brutes." He is writer-in-residence at St. Christopher's School in Richmond, as well as poetry editor for Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature.

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