| Poetry

For the Children of the World Trade Center Victims

    A wilting rose left at the site of the World Trade Center last year. (Andrew Burton / AP)

Nothing could have prepared you—

Note: Every poem I have ever written
is not as important as this one.

Note: This poem says nothing important.

Clarification of last note:
This poem cannot save 3,000 lives.

Note: This poem is attempting to pull your father
out of the rubble, still living and glowing
and enjoying football on Sunday.

Note: This poem is trying to reach your mother
in her business skirt, and get her home
to Ridgewood where she can change
to her robe and sip Chamomile tea
as she looks through the bay window at the old,
untouched New York City skyline.

Note: This poem is aiming its guns at the sky
to shoot down the terrorists and might
hit God if He let this happen.

Note: This poem is trying to turn
that blooming of orange and black
of the impact into nothing
more than a sudden tiger-lily
whose petals your mother and father
could use as parachutes, float down
to the streets below, a million
dandelion seeds driving off
to the untrafficked sky above them.

Note: This poem is still doing nothing.

Note: Somewhere in this poem there may be people alive,
and I’m trying like mad to reach them.

Note: I need to get back to writing the poem to reach them
instead of dwelling on these matters, but how
can any of us get back to writing poems?

Note: The sound of this poem: the sound
of a scream in 200 different languages
that outshouts the sounds of sirens and
airliners and glass shattering and
concrete crumbling as steel is bending and
the orchestral tympani of our American hearts
when the second plane hit.

Note: The sound of a scream in 200 languages
is the same sound.
It is the sound of a scream.

Note: In New Jersey over the next four days,
over thirty people asked me
if I knew anyone in the catastrophe.

Yes, I said.
I knew every single one of them.

From “Jackleg Opera: Collected Poems, 1990-2013” by BJ Ward, published by North Atlantic Books, ©2013 by BJ Ward. Reprinted by permission of publisher.

BJ Ward
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