Friday, September 11, 2015

From the 104th Floor


From the 104th Floor

by Leda Rodis (age 14 in 2001) 

When the plane hit the building
rocked first
to the right
then
to the left,
and outside all the skyscrapers
of New York
seemed to tremble.
The alarms screamed louder
than we did, and I knew
it was time to get away. It’s funny
what you notice:
a pen rolling across the floor
my screen saver flicker and go off
a picture of you
and me
at Coney Island.
So much to leave behind. And yet so little.
Running down the hall I remembered
my mother
taking me to the top
of the Empire
State Building when I was just
a little girl,
telling me that a plane
had crashed there a long
time ago. So I thought that maybe
that’s
what happened. Just
an accident. And accidents
happen everyday.
Under the blown-out exit sign
a crowd
is screaming,
crying,
pounding
on the door.
I know:
There’s
No
Way
Out.
You have to believe that I tried. I’m not the one
to give up.
Back at my desk, I rescue
the rolling pen,
stare
at the blank screen, and
hold
my picture
of you.
I look out
at the blue morning.
I expect
to see God there.
But what I really see is
another plane.
And I know what it means.
But I don’t know why…
I always thought that life was full of choices.
It always has been.
What to wear
Where to eat
Who to love
(and you know who I chose).
Now my choices have been taken away from me.
The men in the planes have narrowed my choices
down
to
two:
Death by fire, or death by fall.
I see the smoke
rising
filling the room
It’s hard to breathe
I look towards the open window.
What
would falling feel like?
I remember the roller coaster at Coney Island.
The wind tugging at my hair
How good it felt to scream.
The feeling in my stomach.
And how all the way down
I was with you.