Music for the Days After

These things I remember:

The cement of the fire station floor.
The firefighters’ faces saying:
“Jesus Christ Jesus Christ It’s Bad.”

Driving.

Everywhere pictures of smoke, dust and airplanes.

The smooth blue shirt of the stranger
I collapsed into.

(We saw each other, more than a year later,
in the grocery store
and stood in silence.
Finally he said,
“It’s all right. It’ll be all right.”)

Driving.

A dimly lit church.
A rabbi who dared utter:
“Forgiveness.”
Leaning against someone as they leaned against me.
Reading names on paper.

Driving.

A cliff over bright water.
How empty and silent the sky was.
Exhaustion.
A hotel room
And someone singing:
“Wish You Were Here.”
The phone ringing.
Someone asking me:
“When are you coming back?”
My throat too tight to answer.

Driving.
Coming back.

Now I look at all of you.
I hear all of you.
I feel all your arms.
All your beating, desperate hearts.
All your chapped hands.
All your bruised knees.

And I know:

We all have such choked silences,
Such dust.

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