I can’t seem to get any closer than two blocks away. Even without knowing exactly where I am, my chest seems to know when I’m approaching it. It gets tight, as if I’m choking on the dust of three thousand souls that blanketed every surface and darkened the sun. My heart beats out of rhythm, as if echoing each of those muscles interrupted that day. My feet will hardly move, as if afraid to tread these tombstone sidewalks, imbedded forever with the very DNA of those who jumped, those who ran, those who bled and those who simply vanished into the nevermore. My eyes can’t seem to rake that big empty hole in an otherwise closely packed sky, as if there’s too much sun and space. And because I can’t not see the planes, the bursts of flame, the puffs of smoke and the devastating holes.
I can’t speak. I can open my mouth but nothing comes out. I’m silent with all those who couldn’t scream or didn’t have time to. And I want nothing of the memorial. I want no touristic pictures in front of some tacky cardboard cutout from 1999. I want nothing to do with the perpetual fountains. Don’t hand me a flyer telling me what I already know. Don’t ask me to sit by the perpetual fountains. I’ll not assault the corner firehouse with my camera, nor expressions of sympathy. Everyone who worked in that house is dead. They died that day.
I don’t want to see the incorporated chunk of crushed fire truck or the two big holes that were the footprints of toppled giants. Fuck the tour busses. Fuck the viewing platform. I can scarcely look at a man in a hard-hat or the blinking red hands of the crossing signals that flashed interminably at no one and everyone in the thirty story high pile of nothing and everything. Two hundred and twenty stories of 40,000 feet of office space, and in the rubble, there were no copy machines, no refrigerators, no fax machines or coffee pots found. The largest piece of anything recognizable was half the faceplate of an office phone. Everything else was pulverized and vaporized.
Why would I need a viewing platform when I can’t ever unsee what happened here?
Robin Behl, La Cuentista