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Sitting in Baltimore remembering 9/11 and the all the years since, reading a book about about the long arm of the tragedy and trying to connect it to the long arm of my own life since 2001. Anyway, I drafted a poem. I rarely share my poems but felt compelled to share this one for everyone feeling things today. ❤️❤️
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The sky in South London was white-grey,
Dove-wing colours,
Bleeding through my lover’s blue curtains.
And later there was the taste of plum on the tongue of this other boy who loved me
And tried to say it but
Everything changed before he could.
The smashedness of possibility.
You felt the world veer off course,
Even though you were far away
And New York was only an idea from movies.
His voice as you moved deliciously in the single bed where moments before you’d been tangled together like serpents,
like two halves of the same thing.
‘A plane has hit the Pentagon’.
Everything shatters.
A million futures splintering.
On Fox News ‘day of terror’, written in blood as we watch the towers fall.
The television flickers.
All day we watch
With tea and biscuits,
My lover cooks me vegetarian sausages and frozen potato waffles with beans.
The fork tastes of steel,
Breath from my mouth.
My eyes can’t avert from
The dust billowing up those streets where I’ll walk and walk – much later
Lean inside the footprints carved deep from the rubble of the towers,
To the belly of the Earth,
Where clear water gushes in a crystal cascade,
Over black granite.
A memorial to the rich and innocent,
Though across the country there are whole towns where alive people don’t have clean water to drink.
And there are dead babies lying on beaches,
Drowning to escape the chaos we unleashed
In vengeance.
But the pain of it clings.
You spend years
Imagining the lobbies of those buildings,
Hours looking out at the footprints of them,
Peering through wire fences before the memorials are finished
The wire that same dove-wing grey
As the South London sky.
You close your eyes
Hear the click click of court shoes against a cold stone floor,
You dream of the escalators,
In your dreams everything is rising upwards
Or the wreckage,
Steel frames and dust all around.
Either way you panic.
And the boys I kissed
Shot in the head,
Dead or ruined in the desert,
Avenging this thing
You lay in the arms
Of your lover, trembling at the enormity
Shock visible on your skin like tiny ripples
At the surface of a river
Or how the water stretches as it moves through the estuary
Before it becomes the sea.
And still that dove-wing sky
Leaks through the windows
In that place before the terrible future
Becomes now.
The hot skin of your lover peels away from
Your own hot skin.
Two separate things.
‘A plane has flown into the Pentagon.’
The blue curtains move as you brush past them.

The television flickers.