Let’s start with this coffee I just spilled,

stain spreading, steadfast as the walnut floorboards

that must still swell with moisture

in the room my family swarmed for dinner as a boy,

window shades filtering the adamant,

decaying sun of summer evenings.

I focus all attention on the earthy, robust smell,

that seems darker than the coffee,

and I refuse to recognize the way something dark,

and completely simple,

like this now half-cup of coffee, trembles,

then stills a second as I hold it,

and stare into it a long time,

until I am remembering that man¾

how heavy he was that morning

he dropped from the South Tower¾

and that house where I watched him on the television,

ten years old, with a certain sense, bewildering

and paralyzing as the takeoff of a plane is to a toddler.

And despite a looking back

that said goodbye before I could say anything,

and his deep breath, his wave,

he still turned carefully away, forever,

scrutinized the skyline, face tilted upward

as if supported by the feeble sunrays

girdering through the smoke,

and stepped off.

Like light he desired darkness.

Sometimes, when I try to imagine myself as that man,

I feel released for seconds,

and if that release persists, terrified.

And to be honest, as a child, I was terrified of everything:

clowns, bad grades, the filthy fingers of a family friend all over me.

But that other fear is different.

Even so, I thought I could forget that man

cascading through the chaos¾determined, free¾

and whether or not his fall was peaceful.

Bathed in the television’s tide of light, I sat,

a moth fixed to the flame of what it wanted,

and watched as the camera trembled,

going out of focus…

Then came a reporter, sweat glistening her forehead

as she talked, calm as habit,

the microphone shaking in her hands.

And all the youth I felt,

whatever left me in my nervous laugh,

did not return in the deep breath I drew in,

slowly, a second later,

the first breath of a young man.

And who knows where that boy went,

too numb to speak about what he thought

was only a someone’s cowardly surrender.

But maybe, after all, he’s here,

in this coffee stain on the carpet¾

its shape not a body flattened on concrete,

but only the random result of gravity,

a blind design whose silence and force

transforms everything.

 

Domenic Scopa

Domenic Scopa is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the 2014 recipient of the Robert K. Johnson Poetry Prize and Garvin Tate Merit Scholarship. He holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. His poetry and translations have been featured in Poetry Quarterly, Reed Magazine, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Belleville Park Pages, and many others. He is currently an adjunct professor for the Changing Lives Through Literature program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and at New Hampshire Technical Institute. His first book, Walk-in Closet (Yellow Chair Press) is forthcoming in 2017. He currently reads manuscripts for Hunger Mountain and Ink Brush Publications.

 

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