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MY 9-11
Metta Sáma

has a photographic memory, it loops &
loops & loops, & my 9-11 comes in the shape
of a man standing on a non-heated sidewalk,
in front of a house that isn’t ash, that doesn’t ask
the eyes: “bow”; this man hands out paper
whose middle isn’t ruined by burn, isn’t
falling out of a window, isn’t, in its very moment
of falling, already set to pen and metaphor

(the acrobat of the page
the words silent
the paper bends like bodies
the paper like birds
the grace of being released)

The man who insists this orange paper
in my hands, he’s not in flames. He calls me
through heat, curses me for refusing communal
worship. He wants me to bend with him.
I want to pray for all bodies to stop
falling out of windows, to stop screaming
mid-air, mid-floor, mid-crash and
boom, mid-stairwell and 1, 2, 3 air
floods the lungs like overbearing lovers.

My 9-11 is your 9-11, the man says to me. Those bodies
are your sisters, your brothers, your aunts and uncles
and cousins and they are you and me, and he waves
his orange paper until the sun catches it,
and it is flames. And go ahead, call it a phoenix,
give it some hope. Yes, my 9-11 is just as hyperbolic
as yours. It loops & loops & loops & finds
a woman can look like paper, falling flat,
like a tree’s winter branch, falling flat,
like a hawk’s individual feather, falling
like ash like glass like grief it marks the sky. My 9-11
is perhaps like your 9-11, like your Kennedy
or Columbine or King or King, like your antebellum,
your Oklahoma City, my slavery, your ships &
all of our bodies tight, reluctant, hazardous in the belly.