Where Were You When It Happened? A Meditation on Missing Buildings

September 11, 2016

“Buildings, too, are children of Earth and Sun.”
  ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

I’ll tell you where I was
woke up at eight in the morning in Sherman Oaks
It had already happened

Showered to get ready for the meeting
had no idea it had happened
About to walk out the door and my uncle from Albany called

He knew it had happened,
he asked me “so, what do you make of it all?”
He’s a bit of a joker and I hadn’t seen TV since the night before

I figure, he’s just being crazy, like normal
so I answer, “What do I make of it all? Well, I like some of it
and the rest I could do without.”

He understands I have no idea what had happened
that I had slept through what had happened
He tells me to turn on the TV

And so I do. And there it is.
Two of our buildings are gone. Out biggest buildings.
The people in those buildings, gone.

Have you ever hated someone so much
you wanted to take away the things that they built?
That’s how they feel about us.

I wonder if the meeting is still happening.
I make a phone call. It is. I drive to the meeting.
There, we sit in a circle. The agenda is gone.

It is only about the buildings and the people.
There is no meeting at this meeting.
We drive home to make sense of it all

A few months later the chief sends planes.
It is early in the morning, before any of them are awake
He takes away some of their buildings, some of their people.

And the cycle begins.
In the end we are all left with less buildings.
less people. They still hate us.

It is a burden now to travel the world
to be in another place and identify yourself as being from there
where it happened. It is our new identity.

Not to mention our suspicion in the security line
of the guy with the dark skin, and the one with the laptop
and the one who fusses about taking off his shoes.

There are two kinds of people now.
Us, and the ones who might be them.
It is our new reality.

There are the miracles
My friend Alice who skipped her doomed flight
because her mother wasn’t feeling well.

That plane went down.
There are reasons for not feeling well
There are miracles in the darkness.

There is a light beaming out of a hole in the ground
In New York City. The souls of the anonymously hated
travel that light. Turn that hatred into holiness.

And me?
I still sleep in.
I am suspicious of phone calls that come before nine am.

and when I do wake up
late in the morning, I pray
that all the buildings are still there

all the people in them
still there.

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