Nine (11) Foot Sway"Nine (11) Foot Sway" IS COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL AND MAY NOT BE DOWNLOADED, TRANSMITTED, PRINTED OR PERFORMED WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR
You and I walked for hours that night
through the city, down secret streets only we could see
cobblestoned, dim with gaping doorways and old wood
slowly south, until the sharp breeze cleared our minds
and we came out at the end, under the towers.
We lay down together and looked straight up them
and you said, or we read, I can't recall,
that they had a nine foot sway.
We felt like insects beneath meadow-grass in the wind.
A nine foot sway, graceful and strange.
I watched a building implode once,
streets cordoned off, with city people tailgating
as close as they could get. We took pictures
and I can't remember a sound,
only the slow, tired, sagging, crumbling,
A man with a camera caught it, smoke billowing
then suddenly dust blossoming into clouds
like a tidal wave, roaring down the street,
and then the images jumbled,
trapezoidal as he ran for cover.
In the street she stopped, staring up at roiling smoke
where no smoke should be
and tiny figures, black against the sky through dust and haze
flinging off the building like water droplets.
A man said,
it's raining people.
And then she couldn't see.
We felt the hit, felt the tower shudder,
but who could tell? Until the smoke drifted by from below
and we were far too high.
Our windows faced water, and we gazed out
while at our backs the room darkened, the air thickened,
and the screaming.
I didn't know you well, but when I glanced at you
your eyes said this is all we can do.
There was no glass, just the side of the building holding us in
smoke drifting by, a nine foot sway
and on the ledge our feet wobbled, clothes blowing against our skin.
The sharp breeze cleared our minds
our hands clasped, knuckles white, and with another glance
we pushed the building away, felt the wind lift us up
felt the sky's arc,
and the sunlight glinting along the water.
My thanks to Annaliese Moyer for reading this poem aloud at No
Shame [on 9/21/01]. I wrote it on Wednesday, 9/12, in about 15
minutes, after not having written a poem in about 15 years.