December 2, 2015

Adam Scheffler

1WTC

Sometimes I lie in bed at night
with the shade pulled back,
and count all the lights still on.
This morning, in the distance, it hoists a scaffold
of shouting workers high in the air
who struggle to latch and graft its glittering
spire into place, the one needed
to reach its symbolic 1776 feet.

I hate the simplicity of its most American message:
we can do anything—
knock us down, we’ll rise up stronger—
and I think how little we’ve learned,
though it’s not unbeautiful, its bent
glass-sheen and shimmer. “At sunset
it takes on the color of the sky,” says the doorman.

From my room at night it can seem delicate,
distant, even small, but running south
along the Hudson it grows
so quickly that I feel quickly helpless:
I see the simple myth of innocence
and perseverance writ large
in its monstrousness and I tilt my head back
until I see black in the corners of my vision.

I try to see in it those many who won’t
ride the elevators into the sky,
who won’t vacuum the floors, or barter for stocks,

or else to glimpse in it the families
who watch the new tower rise
up better and higher, like an elaborate
eulogy telling only a person’s best qualities,
one that in its very ethereal perfection teaches you
for the first time, that your beloved is dead.

from Rattle #49, Fall 2015

[download audio]

__________

Adam Scheffler: “I love reading fiction, and for a long time I thought I wanted to write stories. The trouble was that I kept getting bored after writing two pages. I also wanted the stories to be intense starting from the first line, and I didn’t like the feeling that, when writing, I was the one deciding what was coming next. William Faulkner once suggested that fiction writers are failed poets. I guess for me it’s the other way around.”