It was then that I came crumbling down—
Like the buildings,
Like the airplanes,
Like the hearts and the guts and the papers,
The papers that should have been consumed
Instead of the steel.
It was then that the air tasted like burnt wires—
Like cotton candy flavored with gasoline,
Like tornados of dust,
Like the people who jumped and burned and cried,
The people who never got to live the rest of their life
Because of some else’s hatred.
It was then that I saw my reflection in the glass—
Like a good friend telling me that my dress is too tight,
Like my soul whispering its deepest desire,
Like a foggy image in dirty water,
Hidden by a plate of pond scum
Beautiful beneath the weeds.
It was then that I smelled my calling—
Like my husband’s after shave streaked on his collar,
Like truth stinking up the statehouse,
Like vanilla pomegranate slicing through ash,
Killing the odor of fear and horror and sadness
And the scent of my neighbors who never came home.
It was then that I knew I would become someone else—
Someone who strove to stain the world with compassion.
I would no longer climb ivy-lined ladders.
I would cease to exploit emotions for a living.
I would honor, I would give, I would live.
And every time I woke up, I’d look up—past the scum—and forgive.