Mom Watches Us Play With Legos: 9/11/01 ~ Darius Atefat-Peckham


Moments after, high on destruction,
We built towers with Legos against the blue
Glare of the television screen and flew wing-bent hands
Through the plastic so it would tumble down.
We screamed in low chuckles and waved
Our arms above our heads. She must
Have wondered how she could
Explain this to us, the fire rolling out like
The brim of a final red curtain from the building’s middle. How could she
Explain why this was so different from the action-adventure
Films we loved
The black dots,
Bodies, falling shadows—
These people were mommies and daddies too. She’d tell us.
And cry for strangers,
For us without her.
How could she explain why, on days like these, she didn’t
Hold her husband at night, how she could feel the brevity of her
Life pulling at her breast like small mouths, a life
That would come to an end in a helicopter above Amman,
Jordan, above a car with a shattered windshield; my brother’s death.
Maybe she’d assure us that our heritage isn’t the problem
Even though people will say that it is. She will keep our heritage
Beautiful for us as long as she can manage. Even years after
She died, it seems whimsical when I read it in her poetry, like
Watching a dancer move, grasping through empty air, catching
The words she wants and pulling them against her swelled chest—
Spiraling her hips toward hard ground.