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Lee Gundersheimer: We are living through months with weeks of days like these

Lee Gundersheimer: We are living through months with weeks of days like these

From the COLLECTION: 20 years later, our readers share 9/11 memories series
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I used to order the same breakfast sandwich from

the deli called Delion next to NYU Drama each morning

on the way into work, and stepping out in a still warm

September tracking the time before my first appointment

and just after taken a bite with a roll not exactly fresh,

I looked up to a see a downtown building on fire.

Racing into work, everyone was crowded

around a TV set that had been pulled into

the lobby and folks were saying it was a plane,

I heard it was a jet, that flew into the Trade Center.

As it was being batted back and forth as too improbable,

the second aircraft flew into the Twin Tower, and there was

no more need to debate. It may have been only a moment

but it felt a full half-hour before the next sound

shattering, yanking us, pulling us from our

deep underwater stunned silence as if the walls

themselves were wailing, you could hear it long before

she entered, a student’s screams of unfettered sorrow:

“I saw someone leap, I watched them falling” words catapulting

atop of her gasping for breath, and we rushed to comfort her,

administering what little care one can when

the enormity of what was unfolding

left us all wondering

how do you

minister

to the

inconsolable.

Multitudes of memories from that sky blue day

just a quarter-mile from what became ground zero,

the cloud of moving ash making its way uptown as

vast as a deserted dust bowl sandstorm, followed by those

already enveloped in the fog of still-smoldering debris

hacking with each trudge, engulfed with only the whites of their eyes ungreyed,

as they slowly marched, their pace as scattered as the Founding of Purgatory’s parade,

the subways were screeched to a halt and like a blackout in broad daylight.

Every street was pouring full with all trying to find a way still shaking home

hoping all they loved were safe, no cell service, landlines ringing off the hook,

are you there, please pick up, I just want to make sure, I am fine call me the minute-

You could reach out and tangibly grasp the collective concern that we now

were no longer in a place such stuff dreams are made on, but with blocks of buildings

built to be knocked down,

full of millions to be targeted,

we lived

in the

most valuable

bullseye

was this

disaster’s ending

episode or

just the

first season?

Of course, there was even in the devastation

of the then unimaginable, small acts of

heroic humanity, and to have experienced

the absence of selfishness, the vanquishing

of vanity and vehemence that set

in by the next day’s dawning

was something none of us will ever forget,

nor should, it was as if all that was possible

in a daydream of a utopia had flowered,

but slowly the best of us

found the way back to

horns honking,

bumping into

strangers, get out

of the way

worst.

And now we are living through months with

weeks of days just like that, how do you even begin

to not lose count when there are hundreds upon thousands?

Yes once more there are daily those responding to the call

whose bravery, sheer goodness, the best of who are

are saving strangers, creating treatments, sharing food, building shelter

but there are still those crowding the beaches and bars,

and have you heard, I just read that your Delion had to close,

while our state, only the 24th in per capita deaths, and we never

chose to shut down, we are booming, people are banging

down the door to move here, and none of my friends are

living fearful, I can show you science that says that masks

don’t even work.

And I hear that student

screaming out in the hall

full of sickbeds

overflowing,

and will the

building’s full

casualties

that were

finally

receding

be allowed

to one

day stop

before

another

bright blue

Fall.

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