45 (A Twitter Poem) Read from the bottom up

11 Sep


I shared those 45 minutes with you. Pray for those who remember lifetimes.


All I have are memories as fresh as cut grass. They are memories of minutes. 45 minutes swept in a vacuum of fear and trepidation.


I write elegiac poems for family & friends when they ask but never wrote a poem about 9/11. I don’t think I can. I don’t have fancy words.


I washed my face and told my boss I could teach today.


I told her I loved her and promised myself I’d never take the morning for granted again. I’d always look up at planes tryna see my mommy


was no future for her friends who just died, just going to work. an ordained minister of the Gospel, mom planned on counseling at LAX.


watched most of the footage in my grandma’s room. They witnessed the future together I guess. I asked her about the future. she said there


She called me too, but my phone was in my lost purse and of course i never check for missed calls. Her land line was pointless because she


She called Chris first but I was too busy being late upstairs, pissed off that he was staying home today being of all things, a parent.


I asked her how it was I couldn’t find her and all the pieces I took no time to see became placidly clear.


Someone hit reverse and rewound the last 3 quarters of my life and made sense. I think it was God.


“I’m here!” “I’m here!” “I’m here!” “I was in the shower just now. I heard you screaming from the bathroom!” “I didn’t work today!”


I thought I should just plead with her answering machine who still has those anyway? WHERE ARE YOU? WHERE ARE YOU? IN JESUS’ NAME, WHERE ARE YOU!


since Danny asked the question that changed my life but I tried again anyway. I boldly called the land line, again.


She handed me her desk phone. “Call! Keep Calling! Somebody get Sani a sub!” This would be the 4th, 5th, hell I don’t know time I’d called


I think I got in her face, flustered and teary eyed. “um, i learned about this 45 minutes ago and have yet to find my mom. I cannot teach.”


I pushed past them all. I said I was selfish that day. I called my principal my “white mama” so I figured she’d be okay w/ my forwardness.


past one crying teacher. her college roommate worked in Manhattan. Another teacher was looking to hear from his sister, friend somebody.


while teachers frayed at the hems of consciousness. i dare not go to my classroom. i’d be trapped into security. i wasn’t secure. i stormed


Again, somehow the truck sped across town, West Side Long Beach.The middle school where I taught was a mixed bag of tricks. Kids played cool


There i was, possibly lying again. i thought, “if she is gone, she will show herself to me. she would not leave me so vacant.”


grader was already in tears because i’d yet to produce a Nana for him. I promised I’d keep calling and as soon as I got her she’d call him.


Somehow the truck continued to fly and we made it to school on time. My first grader was inside a special place he hides his fears. The 3rd

All I knew was my mother was a line holder for United and was scheduled to fly from the East, possibly Boston. She hadn’t picked up the phone.


There are so many things i didn’t consider. So many things i remembered on the left side of right. it was bound to a moment to kill me.


I asked this child, this 8 year old where his Nana flew last. “Boston” he said. next, “you call her? she at home?” “She flies Boston now.”


Disaster preparedness is a crap shoot. when disaster hits we either hit the mark with ease or we die trying. all sensibility left me when


“mommy”? I called her land line to reassure us. nothing. the acids in my empty stomach began to react to the sweat newly forming on my brow.


My kids are old fashioned raised and never throw commands but his “call her mommy” shook me. what if I can’t? what if I can never call her


“But she switched her schedule with somebody last week to be with me. That means Nana went to work today.” “Call her mommy.”


I lied. I hate liars. Liars are thieves of the heart but I had to say something.


“No, baby, she didn’t fly today. No.”


I wanted to drive the brakes into the pavement but my brain knew better. I didn’t know the answer to his question. I started reaching for my Phone going 85 in the fast lane tryna make sense of my heart head and fears and get them to school on time.


“Didn’t Nana fly today?”


“mommy?” his voice was so tiny then. he was just a boy then. full of wonder and spinning energy. He asked one question. He had no idea I was


You know how we all remember where we were when something horrible happens? This entire story lives because of an 8yr-old’s question.


in the backseat sat my 8 & 5 year olds, one in 3rd, his brother a week into 1st grade. The eldest memorized his Nana’s work schedule.


as my senses began to focus i thought i should keep things light in the car. kids had to be across town for school, they shouldn’t worry.


telling jokes. they were funny but insignificant. they were small. next station blared a rap song about how fat her ass was.


wouldn’t hear. the F150 melted in reverse, i don’t remember much here. just turning on the radio as i got on the freeway. Steve Harvey was



“Baby, we’ve been attacked.” Be careful. Spots in Long Beach are on their target list. he whispered the last part I think so the boys


my music was blaring so i had to scroll the window down. “it’s not a movie.” “what’s not a movie?” I’m thinking his meds are off


same breath i left. he came out to the car like a zombie, Karlie still in his arms. his mountain of a body blocked me in the alley.


“wow the CGI on that new action flick is awesome.” I said, rushing out, “how’d they shoot that without a blue screen? Movie’s tight!” In the


I grabbed my keys on the end table and watched his face. it was cold, dead. he was enchanted by a spell on the tv. i glanced over and thought


the stairs, then bolted back up. didn’t have my purse. nearly tripped on the same landing i fell down pregnant with her on my way down again.


he said something but i had no time. the boys were waiting in the car. the baby asleep in his arms so what did he need of me? i flew down


i was selfish. i was terribly late for work and thought no one cared. scrambling to do my hair, i ignored Chris’ calls from downstairs.


i am a poet, so people often ask me to reflect on the humanity or lack thereof in tragic and momentous events. i am a daughter on that day;


© Asani Charles 9/11/11


3 Responses to “45 (A Twitter Poem) Read from the bottom up”

  1. Reynaldo Macias (@reythejedi) September 11, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    Thanks, Asani.

  2. Alex Morales September 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Very moving…thank you for your beautiful words.

  3. Bri September 11, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    This is absolutely beautiful. I felt like I was there with you.

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