by Bradley Clompus

As though stuck at thirteen,
as though mother were
fixed in mid-forties. Beside,
an uncomposed demolition
of sounds, iron ball slowly
arcing into the top level ruins,
muddled whump of impact, girders
shearing, tumbling, concrete fists,
shoulders, joints staggering
down to cutters and torchers,
massed pushers, haulers. Building
guts spilling from pre-crash fruition
of 1920s: lawyers, insurance agents,
accountants pale from overwork, hopeless
hoarding of others’ assets, plaster
a sickly mint green granulating
from every exposed, torn off
room, secrets mixed with
unaccustomed white, newly
opened to wind, to light.

From one of those half
de-created spaces, floor jigsawed,
dust billowing, paint chips mothing
down, a thin object falls, twists
while falling, hits ground
noiselessly, lost behind a drift
of debris. I say Something just
fell from a building. Mother
doesn’t answer, keeps walking.
Next day the news allots
a name, a past, a truncated
present. He was working
the 11th floor, wore a yellow
hard hat. If we stayed, we might
have seen a crowd assemble,
a few lance-like arms pointing.
There could have been a subsonic
hum of frightened bees, a plea
for reckoning. Try to remember
this, I remind myself. Mother says,
not to me, not to the watchers,
That poor guy, that poor, poor
guy. Rubble is piling on the ground,
a minor mountain, its peak unstable,
sloughing off the hard and soft
stuff we’ve made, the brownish
scarlet rusts, dirty beige, broken
Wedgewood blues. The man waits
for his pickup, his arrangements.
Verging toward mourning,
the crowd might have huddled
a bit, leaned in tentatively,
sheltering an absent core.
And two of us who’d partly
seen, partly known, left it
all behind, kept walking.

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