Charles Adès Fishman

EVEN DANTE

would have fallen silent,
would have let the fires
smoke and flare   and lick
the poisoned air   for a decade
or longer   then burn and smolder   
until memory had been consumed. 
 
He would have fallen into a dark
dream   unpunctuated by light   
or leaping bodies   or the smell
of scorched bones   and he
would have known his words
would not startle   or soothe   

or stir souls      He would have known
the sky had been torn   irreparably  
and could not be re-sewn     He
would have known his adjectives   
would carry no sting   or luster   
that his nouns would seem   
 
anchorless   as drifting dunes     
And he would have withheld
his pen   his black and golden
visions   and written nothing
about the Twin Towers: not a jot

not a single hushed moan      He
would have known that meaning
had been murdered   and would not be
re-born   Dante would have known   
and held back his music.

from 9/11 ten years after

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