Monthly Archives: September 2014

I Remember You | or | High Dive

september-11

It’s been 13 years since September 11, 2001. It’s not a remarkable round-numbered anniversary, but I have been thinking of it the last few days. I was trying to remember the person I was then, the college student woken up by a 6:45 am phone call, irritated that it meant I was woken up 15 minutes early. It’s hard to remember the person I was in a world of an indefinable quality of before.

Of all the great glut of memories, there is one image that has haunted me for 13 years. Two people falling silently together through the air, holding hands in their shared descent. I still wonder if they were friends, if they sat next to each other in a pool of cubicles. I wonder if they knew each other’s names. Even in the horror of choosing to jump, I find something tender in their clasped hands. I feel a relief that if only in this last instant before the forces of gravity might pull them away from each other, they were not alone.

I wrote this in 2004 and revisited it in 2012. This is for them, captured in mid-air, stilled in their conjoined flight, as if pressed beneath glass, weightless, free.

High Dive

“God! Save their souls! They’re jumping!

Oh, please God! Save their souls!”

-Manhattan, September 11, 2001

I won’t say

Don’t be afraid.

It would be easier that way, I think

But this will not be easy.

This is not an hour of fantasy

And for you I will not pretend.

But I will:

Kneel with you at the

Wound of wall

Where sound erased the glass,

Kneel at the concrete pier that was

Once your office

Where sometimes I passed,

Smiled if you looked up

(You never looked up).

Kneel together with you

Where the tufts and ridges of

Carpet sear their patterns  into

Our knees.

Kneel until the air is black

Until your heart slows with mine.

But I won’t say

Don’t be afraid.

I will say that I loved

A woman once with hair

That fell in her eyes—

And you can talk about your

Children– if you have them—

About the message you left him

The first time—that everything was

Alright, we all left those.

Tell me about the town where you grew up—

About the first time your stomach

Somersaulted and your purse slipped

From grasp when you pressed

The button in the elevator—

one-oh-one—

or was it SOS? I can’t remember now.

Kneel until you are ready.

And when you are ready:

I will tell you about the summer

I learned to swim

In a wide mouth of ocean near Seabright

How the sea was very bright that day

When my father held my hand at the bluff

And when our feet left the

Edge of land we knew behind—

Blue sky was all I could see

And the first plunge into the waves

Was like coming home.

I might say—

It is alright

Today.

And when you are ready:

We will match our toes to the edge of

The bluff that was once your office

As the surf of grey cloud

And the wave of ash rises

And you can weave your

Fingers through mine.

And when your heart

Slows with mine?

When you release the

Amen of exhale?

You could close your eyes—

But I hope you will open them:

Wide.

For the sea is very bright today

And as we float and fly

In the September sun

The blue sky will open its face to you

And it is almost like coming home.

And this time

I will pray:

Don’t be afraid.

It was easier this way.

Copyright Nicole DeLeon. All rights reserved.

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