Half

The museum has a photograph

Of a pair of shoes from 9/11,

A pair of black high heel shoes

That are scuffed on the sides.

And seeing them

Brings me back

To that day,

Planes hitting,

Bodies falling,

Or how the rest of us tried to run.

And I remember the shoes of 9/11,

When I went back to Ground Zero,

Two weeks later,

The dust and the dogs,

Soldiers with their tanks,

And how I saw the shoes

Strewn like that across the roads

And sidewalks and how they were

Covered in a thick gray dust.

But the shoes in the photograph are together,

A pair,

And I don’t remember any pairs.

I only remember one shoe,

Covered in thick, gray dust

And repeated over and over,

Alone and missing the other

Shoe, which was gone now.

Because shoes do not fall off in pairs

When you are running from a falling Tower,

And shoes do not drop off in pairs

When you are falling, falling

From the sky.

But I know that 9/11 is full of halves,

Half of a Tower still standing before

It collapses,

Half of a pelvic bone,

Large and flat, like half of a heart,

Half of my story,

My story of war.

And it was almost seven years after that day,

After 9/11,

The night my husband came home from war,

And I waited until he was asleep,

Before I got out of bed and went

To our front door,

Where his combat boots stood,

Side by side,

And still covered in mud,

Caked in the mud of Afghanistan,

Or maybe Kuwait, where he slept

In a tent, got debriefed,

And returned his weapons,

Before they let him go.

And I am reaching down and touching them,

My husband’s boots from the war,

And the mud is falling off

Into my hands and onto the floor,

This floor, in our house, in America,

Where my husband is

Alive and asleep in our bed,

His body turning over now,

To face my side,

My half of the bed.

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4 Responses to Half

  1. Hal Donahue says:

    Thank you for writing this…

  2. Bill Wolfe says:

    Powerful poetry, Amalie. It breaks your heart AND knocks the wind out of you. It seems that is what 9/11 does best.

  3. Bill Wolfe says:

    Another powerful poem, Amalie. It breaks your heart AND knocks the wind out of you. It seems that is what 9/11 does best.

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