May 13, 2009 / Creative Writing
I watched Rebel Without a Cause on TV late one college night when I learned …
March 10, 2009
He arrived three weeks after, when smoke
from the site could no longer be seen
from a distance, but could still be smelled.
A bookseller in Chicago, he got hired
at a store four blocks from Ground Zero.
Can you believe it, he said. I didn’t think
I’d ever find a job, but they had openings.
The store had a fat black cat, a toothy lady
manager who moonlighted as a rock drummer,
and a grim parade of tourists, each one
in search of the wreckage, each one wanting
to know what it was like to be there. But
he wasn’t there, and when we’d walk through
the city, he’d ask, Would you be able to see
them from here? I feel like I’d be able to see
them there, pointing to a break in the buildings,
a shock of sky, and he’d usually be right. We were
on the subway one year later when they first lit
the memorial beacons. From Queens, the beams
looked too tall, too skinny, but they stood so straight,
glowed so steady. Is that what they looked like?
he asked. No, not quite. Truth be told, I had trouble
remembering. Most of the time, the towers had settled
into the gray background, dull and consistent, there.
When they fell, I had seen it on TV and after, I’d turn
my back to the site, angry at its emptiness, its refusal
to stop bellowing ash. I wish I could’ve seen them
when they were still around, he said, turning away
from the lights, It feels so strange to miss something
you’d never really seen. I know, I tell him, I know.
Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
Cristin has been published in McSweeney's Internet Tendancies, Rattle, Pank, Barrelhouse, Monkeybicycle, decomP and Umbrella. She has recently written a non-fiction book, "Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam" and a new collection of poetry titled, "Everything is Everything."