Twenty Years

have passed since the morning fell to rubble
and the Hudson River filled with dust.
Since conversations fell like teardrops into
night-shadowed Lower Manhattan and the air
collected dreams between Church Street
and the West Side Highway.

Who have we become.
Such hate. Such indifference.
Such unnecessary meanness.
Typed-out insults behind screens,
then shared memes of God and prayers.
The ghosts are watching us.

The firetruck from Ladder Company 3
still shines its sacrifice. Red as those men’s
hearts inside the ash. And the forty-three
restaurant workers in Windows on the World
never knew that day that they would turn a symbol.

Who have we become.
We left our humanity in the smoke
above the steps of St. Peter’s.
Donated our minds to conspiracy.
Forgot that love and concern make us
just as human as seething anger.
The ghosts are watching us.

It hurts to find poetry among
these shards of glass. Below the
blue of sky returned from burning.
It hurts to remember there was a moment,
somewhere on the debris-covered sidewalks,
somewhere below the crushed store signs
and littered scraps of office paper,
the mass grave made from tombstone-steel,
when we all felt the relief of sharing decency,
the clear breath of forgetting our corners.

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