I remember the clouds:
Great, fluffy, billowing white,
and seemingly solid, like you could bounce
from one to the other
and then sink into their softness.
I remember that Midwestern sky,
so clear, so blue.
It was a warm, bright Tuesday morning.
At the bus stop,
two of my classmates burst from the house,
exclaiming wildly, like boys do,
about planes crashing into buildings.
But even their childlike excitement
was gilded with apprehension.
We didn’t know, then.
Those boys, ten, eleven, lived for explosions,
but they also understood mortality,
and after the second, they quieted, unsure.
In my head I thought,
What are the chances?
and something gnawed at my gut.
mounted box TVs flashed macabre silent films
as a backdrop to sad attempts to teach long division.
We were all afraid and we didn’t know why.
All day our class size shrank
as parents came for their children.
We had recess inside.
my sister had soccer practice.
The last image I hold from that day
is the coach
clutching his children,
then holding them at arm’s length,
asking if they knew what happened,
and his daughter’s small voice, saying,
Yes. A plane crashed into the World Trade Center
and her father’s solemn nod.
We hadn’t known the word terror.
We’d only known war as impersonal history.
We’d never seen those towers
until they were burning.
-Laura J. Dobbs