The Day After

by justine

September 12th

I remember that day,
as we all do
And I remember the day after.

The sky a crystal clear blue
The air crisp but warm
the way it is with
summer in September.
The school field glistening with dew.

I’m sure I was wearing
some big knitted sweater,
the kind that you paired
with Birkenstocks
and twine bracelets
and smelled like wool.

Earthy + itchy + full of love.

I’m sure my parents went to
work that day,
though maybe my mom stayed home,
folding load after load
of laundry
in front of the endless news cycle
of a plan crashing into a
building
on a
loop.

Even though I grew up on Long Island
I didn’t understand
what or where the
“Twin Towers” were
But as we walked outside
with our science lab supplies,
off to collect samples of
dirt, or ants, or leaves
I remember smelling something else
on the wind
Like hot tar or burning rubber.

And my science teacher, in her bravery
to treat us like adults said,

“It’s the city burning.”

We were only 50 miles away
from it all.

And that is when it became real,
this weight that I carry
as a high school kid
from New York
the day after the towers fell.

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