(While I was assembling the galleys for "infinite", I sent a copy of this one to my publisher. He wrote back and said had he seen this poem, he would have published me two years sooner.)
Tonight the sky was flat,
the night air too quiet,
and I scanned the deep blue velvet,
remembering the nights
I cursed the false blinking lights
that criss crossed the heavens.
the stars would seem brighter,
But tonight my wish came true,
and it seemed there were holes
where something should have been
and I took no joy in my silent sky.
All at once,
the things I thought as torment
are as nothing---
less than nothing.
I saw the full lot empty,
and the empty lot full,
and though I can see
what the madmen did,
the print of their act is everywhere.
In the market,
people looked for my eyes,
wanted nodding assurances,
even from strangers
that our world still was,
despite the words and pictures,
despite the fear
and all day I heard happy shouts---
this one was late for work---
that one had the flu---
and one man's daughter
had a hang over
that he is still thanking god for.
But I knew as i drove home
that my world had changed
and I stared at the stars
little changed since our dawning,
shining like they did
and I know there is a God,
and I know there is mercy,
and I know the tears will fill an ocean,
and still I am fool enough
to pray for peace,
as the stars shine above me.
(The county, in its infinite wisdom kept the branch of our library open for normal hours on September 11th. I was scheduled to work day hours---but one of my co-workers was frantically attempting to contact her brother---who worked at the World Trade Center.
I took her shift, and found myself working in a ghost branch---so quiet it was terrifying. At Nine o'clock, we shut down, and i could not help but stare at the night sky---cool. Clear...utterly perfect...and completely empty of the usual array of planes and tail lights you become used to, living in the flight path of half a dozen major airports.
The silence, and strangely dark and empty sky shook me every bit as much as my first look of the crumbling Towers...)