THE TOWER

by Eric Rosenbloom
copyright 2001


It rose like a cocksure finger goosing the sky,
Another digit strong in self regard
Loomed across the vast unplanted plaza,
Mere humanity could only shrink
In awe before the closed and soaring form.

Fifty thousand souls would toil within,
Some to eke a mean survival,
Some to turn more fortune to yet more,
Some to serve, some directing,
Others passing through — to shop and eat,
Emerge from tunnels, spread through the district,
Or ride to the outrageous height and amidst
The clouds photograph the unnatural view.

So ugly and proud in its pure artifice,
Yet man-made and humanized by all the lives
That yearned or learned to accommodate
Those grotesque and over-dominating spires,
The tower became mundane, up close another
Office building, from afar a compass point.

A pile of rubble, twisted broken steel,
And six thousand mangled corpses — how
Does the mind make a place to hold such absence?
Who dares to boast a return to normal, a pledge
To build again on the graves of the slaughtered?
Gone — the body aches to see them still,
For the sounds of six thousand fewer voices,
Aches to touch the loved one lost among the lost.

A plane is crashed into a tower:
It burns, the people burn, the rescuers arrive.
The act is repeated on the tower’s twin.
As those who are left to make the long descent
Stagger down the smoke-filled stairways,
One and then the other building crumbles.

Within a week, the site still burning,
Bodies still inside the unmoved wreckage,
Neighbors return to trade their stocks and bonds,
The heady exchange of capital resumes
Behind the ash-caked windows and new barricades
While the president vows to rid the world of evil.
What new sorrows will we know if nothing changes?