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.

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