A Memorial Day

By Martin Tucker

Caught between duty and anonymity

This sun-filled street spends a weekend hour.

An apologetic waiter tells us the bus shelter is coming down.

It is merely a few feet from us, three sides of glass.

“So,” I say, “what do you want me to do about it?”

He shrugs. “I don’t want you to get hurt. Glass will fly.”

I look at the bowl of coffee on my table and the missing brioche

(it’s coming, the waiter told me ten minutes ago).

“Would you go inside? Please. I’m sorry.”

It’s 9/11, the memory of glass flying over Manhattan,

A tribute to New Yorkers, their armor of irony whatever the weather.

 

Some leave the patio,

Some pick up half-eaten omelettes,

Some rush inside to linger at long tables

While waiters scramble their plates.

 

The drill complete, the glass shelter fallen,

I walk outside to yellow tape, orange barrels,

Bands of warning three thousand people could not see

In a traffic of treachery a decade ago.

 

The pile of glass is neat,

Unmelted cubes on a hot afternoon.

I move south to food stands

In the graveyard of Trinity Church.

 

Now I am north in Times Square for a second coming.

9/11 here reigning through slants of sun.

Skins of all animals lie in the talking air.

A sign greets me to raise money to paint the Paramount Theater,

Pink on violet, a people’s campaign.

 

Everything has a meaning I know somebody has the meaning of.

 

——————-

Martin Tucker co-founded and served as Editor-in-Chief of Confrontation for 42 years until his retirement.  He has published five collections of his poetry, and also several works of literary criticism, among them the widely-praised Literary Exile in the Twentieth Century. His reviews, essays, poetry and fiction have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, The New Republic, The Commonweal, Chicago Jewish Forum, West African Review, Research in African Literatures, Boulevard, Epoch and elsewhere.  He served for 23 years on the Executive Board of PEN American Center and for two terms on the Governing Board of Poetry Society of America.


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