September 11, 2002

Nothing has changed.
Each day, I rise before the sun
Each day, I work the same job
I had before September 11, and
Each day, I plot a way to quit.

I still meet with friends
I still write
I still laugh
I still have insomnia
I still drink too much
I still question God's mercy,
God's vengeance

I do not worry about terrorism
Those days are gone
Not because terrorism is,
But because I have accepted death. 

Peace is a lie.
There are only two conditions--
War years and inter-war years.
Because life is still a struggle
Though I and those like me have forgotten.

We've numbed ourselves 
With work and alcohol and sex,
Filling our gas tanks with Saudi oil,
Drinking Colombian coffee,
Wearing clothes made in India
And shoes made in China
All brought to us
By the brothers and sisters of terrorists. 

There is no closure.
The gnawing pain, the hunger
To see that person again
Yet knowing, like a starving man
That you'll never be fulfilled,
That pain doesn't leave,
No matter how much revenge,
No matter how much therapy,
You still remain hungry.

I learned this years ago
Watching my father's body
Eaten by a congenital cancer
Which likely waits in my body, too
Sleeper cells waiting to attack.

I lost him, and learned
That you never get over it
But learn to go numb
And block the pain out
With work and alcohol and sex
And every so often, let out the pain
In your own personal war
Your own personal jihad
Against despair. 

So tonight
I walked under the apple tree
That grows behind my parents' house.
And, as it's still early September,
Saw that the fruit wasn't ripe
And if I were to eat it,
Would be sick.
But still, that snake slithers in the branches
Whispering my name.

Mary Jones 2003