poems and essays on September 11, 2001
One Week Later -- September 18, 2001
Cristine M. DiMario
The woman held the oxygen mask tighter,
As she hurried through the ashen debris,
That mere days before, had housed her career path.
Her squinted, red eyes fell upon a yellow blur,
One corner jutting out from below,
The razor-sharp edge of a mangled beam.
With a morbid curiosity, and a heavier heart,
She slowly bent forward, grasping the piece of paper,
It's printed matter barely legible between burnt borders.
It was a credit card receipt, for what appeared to be,
A bouquet of flowers, with a male name,
Astronomical price, and a scrawled signature.
She fell to her knees at that moment,
Hugging the tattered yellow receipt,
And wailing for what it represented.
She wondered how the recipient of the flowers,
Was hanging on, or if she even was.
She wondered how many children they had.
Most horrifying of all, she wondered,
If the receipt's owner, was still smouldering,
Beside her in the still-smoking rubble.
A younger man, dressed in his Wall Street finest,
Approached her, somehow understanding without words,
The magnitude of her grief, offering his arms,
She went into them for mere comfort,
Still weeping, sorry she was marring his charcoal attire,
With gray ash and tears and sorrow.
Slowly, agonizingly, she allowed him,
To help her to her feet, leaning on the arm,
Of his newly starched designer suit,
They walked on side by side,
Glancing skyward together, tears anew,
As he patted her arm, the one that still held,
A faded, ragged, yellow paper.
No one that they passed was gaping,
Or blinking, or even seeing,
The reality that they all silently shared,
Grieving the greatest loss,
Of all of their lives,
Was unified, with silence,
the paper swept past them,
to flutter away into the ashen distance.
originally posted at the WriteGallery on December 25, 2001
Poem © 2001 Cristine M. DiMario, all rights reserved
appears here by permission