America: 9/11 2002
By the timbre of it, life goes on.
Overhead flight patterns coming and going
not the silent air
of all things stopped.
There is ground travel, mostly rumbling
vibrating diesel, gears shifting gravel loads.
Steel ramps extend,
drop heavy. Freight doors close,
metal slams. Everywhere
Commerce, Commerce, Commerce.
The work of glass plating is another,
its clink pitched high,
notes scaling into the hum
of air conditioning.
Nature tries to be heard.
A few things peep in.
Birdcalls cut through machinery
as the wind stirs movement.
Yet in the shade of this drooping hemlock,
its needles tap drop onto my journal
sounding the haunting song.
Whose hand hulls in to snip
fruit from the whorl whose
Hand peels sheaf-by-sheaf
to pinch out nesting spores whose
Hand shadows then pulls the seed plant
from the fertile loam whose
Hand thins the pear tree deciding two pears –
No – one pear per spur this year whose
Hand mantels green walnuts to blacken
the crinkled stone loose whose
Hand at market reaches for
anything oval for the basket home whose
Hand cups the lemon then the avocado
or quince before wanting the ovolo whose
Carton cradles them – white calcium shells
waiting to break yellow whose
Fluid she desires as blood
flowing in crimson whose
Emptiness longs to nestle ovum
after ovum after ovum whose
Shape she palm wraps with fingers
pronged on a pear whose
Blush is more with moon than sun this
green pome too soon at harvest.
At 5 a.m.
the snow mist lights the air
like sunrise breaking
over the Potomac,
and the cast iron sits warm
near oats boiled and dotted
with last year’s blueberries.
By candlelight and coffee
I am in this predawn moment.
The blizzard an hour away,
by all monitors I am between
Earth and science
wondering about warmth
and this flame I write by
is as still as the sentient trees
anticipating the wind
they know will come.
The birds, yesterday’s jay
and cardinal and the geese, its flock
honking in to the water – gone.
as we brace and ready ourselves
for what is next.
In my 8th floor perch
boxed into the scheme
of someone’s 1960 blueprint,
quiet as the white sky now lights
more of this paper. The shadow
of my pen moves with candle fire.
The clock ticks the only sound
and out there the black and white
grays here and there telling me
color is overrated. The trees
sway as this downfall
dares even the eagle to slice through.
And now it happens. I am in
the current of the marsh curve
against snow banks winding
through the forest, tucked into
the deepest part of me.
Sidney Louise Brown is a retired English teacher and adjunct professor living in Alexandria, Virginia. A Northern Virginia Writing Project Consultant since 1997, after attending the Sewanee Writers Conference in 2000, she gathered national poets and writers to create similar workshops for teachers who write. She has also led meditation walks and retreats throughout the greater D.C. area, published educational articles, and presented her work at educational conferences.