On This Day

on this day, the day after —
i probably woke a bit later, sleep
clinging to my lids,
desperate for just
one
more
moment
of sleep —
tired still: the day before a garbled mess
of somber, tear-jerky anchors’ voices
and
panicked, grainy videos of
steely twin splinters vomiting up great clouds of cauliflower smoke
and
ash that covered bridges, manikins, golden retrievers,
even the sun.

i swallowed a pop-tart (cinnamon brown sugar) while
one thousand, three hundred fifty-three miles away
a girl swallowed a lump in her throat, an apricot pit,
as she waited in the armchair with the worn-smooth brown arms
for the person whose arms had done the smooth-wearing, the man who
chewed hot tamales for breakfast and sang made-up songs that embarrassed her.

i stood at the bottom of a hill waiting on a bus while
one thousand, three hundred fifty-three miles away
a man inhaled grit that clung to a throat scratchy with howled promises of rescue
and obedience to a god and anything, really, to argue with his brother just
one
more
time.

i waited in line at the lunch room, probably tuna casserole, while
one thousand, three hundred fifty-three miles away
a woman sat on a sofa covered with the ash and dust of 220 steel floors
and looked at the same tv images
over and over
and over
without ever really seeing anything but her twenty-four children
and their dust-coated backpacks
and the newly vacant seats at their dinner tables
and the whimper in their voices
and the whites of their eyes.

on this day, the day after —
i probably did not yet know that the great clouds of cauliflower smoke
still hesitated in the sky, more fog than vegetable
and ash still hung draped like a blanket over park benches and coffee mugs,
even — still — the sun;
and the ash-fog would hang over the sky
and the rooftops
and the people
many sunrises and sets after.

 

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