My youngest sister, Kristen, would have turned 38 today…

Of towers and train stations

–In memory of Kristen Marie Mintler—
February 8, 1981—June 8, 2003

I

The day the towers fell:
my sister called
demanding I leave
a home shrouded
in the shadow
of a Chicago skyscraper;
the target, she claimed
of a plane just flown
over Cleveland—
which eventually
turned round to brand
a Pennsylvania field.

The day the towers fell:
my sister called again
commanding I take a train
and flee the city,
failing to realize
that train stations
can be as dangerous
as skyscrapers.

This danger she never knew
before fleeing her own despair
two and a half years after 9/11
two and a half years before
bombings in London
bombings in Madrid

II

—they called to say goodbye
before jumping from the blazing windows
of Tower Number One—

not once did she call
from that dark place
where pain is untranslatable

they called to say goodbye
before cart-wheeling, hands-clasped
down the sides of Tower Number Two—

not once did she call me
from that dark place
where pain is unknowable
to those who do not suffer it

—they called to say goodbye
before raiding the cockpit
at Beamer’s command.

she never called me once
before leaving this world
nothing save her
untranslatable absence

III

After my sister died
I dreamt I called
to say goodbye:
I was two days late.
She was two days dead.

I never called her once…that day
although she crossed my mind
like the shadow of a skyscraper
lengthening in dusk before
disappearing into darkness

IV

I awaken to a voice
that calls my sister
again and again,
demanding she flee
a home shrouded
in Death’s shadow—
hindsight’s knowledge
irrelevant in the dream—
and already knowing the ending:

that any time and place
would have been
as dangerous for her
as twin towers and train stations
in September or March or July

that hearing desperation’s
resounding inward echo
my sister would have fled
from her blue house…
from her June youth…
from her blue June life.

CR. Mintler

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