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Ellen June Wright

Years Ago September Smoke Rose For Weeks

Detail from The Cycle of Terror and Tragedy by Graydon Parrish

maybe months from the pile after we lost the twin towers.

The gray plume, so monumental, carried across the distance—
        visible from my bedroom window every morning

although I lived fifteen miles away across the Hudson River.
.          We were all somber for what seems a very long time.

I still have the stained, satin shirt hanging in my closet
.          where my friend embraced me. Her mascara and tears
forever on a shirt I cannot throw away, cannot dry clean .

Again I look out the window
.          but can’t see what has slain so many.

The country should seem more somber with
.          hundreds of thousands dead.

I’m living in the poem where the poet commands
        all the clocks to stop but nothing stops.

We keep going desperate to get on with our lives,
.          desperate not to think of those profoundly touched
by the invisible thing.


About the writer:
Ellen June Wright is an American poet with British and Caribbean roots. Her work has been published in Plume, Tar River, Missouri Review, Verse Daily, Gulf Stream, Solstice, Louisiana Literature, Leon Literary Review, North American Review, Prelude and Gulf Coast, and is forthcoming in the Cimarron Review. She’s a Cave Canem and Hurston/Wright alumna and a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee.

Image: Detail from The Cycle of Terror and Tragedy by Graydon Parrish (contemporary). Oil on canvas. 76 x 210 inches. 2002-2006. By free license.

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