Volume 32, Number 3

What We Really Lost

Everything. At first, it didn’t seem real, as if the clouds in the sky
had suddenly turned into puppets. There weren’t even bombers, 
but then a dozen nuns and priests at a gray stone convent across
the gray Hudson died. And after that, a woman who had taught

with my husband at the elementary school in our town, her 
whole family, every one of them, all. By then there were barely 
airplanes. The traffic on our street stopped. Birds called out
in the springtime heat and other birds answered them. Nightly,

the TV showed us pictures of the Empire State Building, tip
lit bloody red, like an ambulance, in tribute to the doctors
and nurses who had died. And also for those still at work, dull-
eyed, the skin on their faces mottled by their masks. Many

borders closed.  No one was in charge. It was always 11 AM
or 3 PM and it didn’t matter. The names of the dead became
more and more familiar. Then we had to get tested ourselves and 
somehow escaped. Everything is a heart that burst last year, but

funerals at which we can now kneel seem a mercy: a mother, 
a father.  We are now permitted to sing in public. But the sun’s 
cheery sizzle, its long kite-string of joy—how uncertain all
that feels today! Patience. We are still learning what to trust.

—Christine Potter