Monday, August 16, 2010

Cell by Cell

My husband reads me the details,
about the couple killed in the city
we used to live in.

And I picture Main Street, downtown,
where the subway is. He tells me about
their children back in Texas.
Orphans, now, he says.

And just like that, I think about the fire
down the street from my job,
the conversation, the air full of soot
heat and ash, the crumbling blackened
charred bones of the building,
its sisters, standing open windowed
as if shocked, dripping wet.

You gather these people,
cell by cell, that share your space.
You breathe the same air as them,
jostling against them as the bus
chugs through the city
like a dying thing. You hate and love them.

You stand in front of these buildings,
these streets, and you watch the body fail.
Limp and bloodless. Smoke filled and charred,
like inanimate thing, a body transformed into ash.
I know nothing of the spirit; neither, I suspect, do you.
You wait and watch but in the end,
eventually the destruction is gone,
cleaned up by the men whose job it is to clean the body,
the building, to make new the face of the street,
and you nod
and you shuffle off,
board the bus,
thinking of the day behind you, the night ahead of you,
rub your eyes and exhale into your hands,
your breath filling the pockets of flesh from bone to bone,
It wasn’t me. Thank God. This time.
It wasn’t me.

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