I posted this old poem yesterday (September 10th) and almost immediately took it down. It just felt weird, posting a wedding photo from forty-three years ago from the top of the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World, only about a year or two after the buildings were first open to the public. It seemed senseless to bring up something happy, something joyful, on a day full of sorrow for so many. But there were many weddings at Windows on the World over the years before 2001 not just ours. It is odd and uncomfortable that our dates bracket the tragedy. Married on the 9th, flew to England on the 10th, and the bill we received from Windows was dated September the 12th.
A close friend who was there that night at our wedding 43 years ago, was an early bird who saw the post before I deleted it yesterday. She wrote: “What especially strange associations 9/11 must have for you two.” As a crisis counselor, she was involved in helping people all over the country recover after the attacks, while her husband went back and forth to Baghdad for the government. I wasn’t aware of how they were affected, and how their memory of attending the wedding in Tower One would meld awkwardly with their own associations. In a way, her words had a solemn reinforcement, that not all was lost, that not all memories would be destroyed, although it’s still a strange time to celebrate a wedding anniversary. It is an awesome memory from a city we loved, whose heart, like ours, still beats.
So anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s the lightly re-edited poem, Wedding, September 9, 1978, with all its weight and light. I once read it at a 9/11 poetry event, but I paired it with another, much better poem, which I now cannot find, by someone else.
Remember how tall? Remember the sky, the light that night, September? The music, the light, what we danced to, what the violinist looked like, the sunset over the Hudson. (Jersey never looked so good.) Remember the planes? All around taking off from La Guardia JFK. Private planes, helicopters, way down below us. Remember my brother-in-law, terrified, hanging tight to an inside wall, while the rest of us, full of champagne put our toes to the base of the windows, leaned our foreheads against the cool glass and shallow-breathing, clench-teeth, our fears staring 107 stories down to Chambers Street? Remember the champagne? Remember your Methodist relatives, wide-eyed, upstaters? Aunt Betty, unused to heights of any sort, geographic or alcoholic, was ill. Remember David, Billy, Dick, Paul, and oh, what was his name—the contra tenor— who helped with the music, the flowers. Our old gay crowd, most dead now, the last plague before COVID. Remember this picture of us? Our hands on the knife poised over the very tall, white, butter-cream, frosted cake. Our eyes alert, brows up-raised anticipating the flash. After the wedding, my sister pinned that photo in the back hall of my mother’s house in Troy, Ohio. The caption she added read: THE BOMB IS WHERE?