Today, as two planes flew into the World Trade Center,
I cut branches from the maple tree
in front of our house.
Today, while another plane flew into the Pentagon,
I cut a tall branch that
grew from a low knot.
Today while the buildings collapsed and burned,
I found three near-fledged
cedar waxwing chicks.
They were holding tight with tiny feet
to the fallen branch
straining necks upwards.
Above, in the crook of a branch that had been
brushed hard by the falling one,
a spilt nest from which they’d come.
I took the ladder from the garage, opened it
against the tree, and rebuilt
the nest as best I could.
Then I carried each chick gently back to nest,
small clawed feet clutching
desperately to my hands.
As I moved the last, it opened its mouth
as if to ask me to regurgitate
a meal into its mouth.
Instead, it let out its small alarm call,
its parents flying in from somewhere,
brushing my hair, screaming at me.
Today, as I saw the birds safely back
to their rebuilt nest, three wounded
holes burned in New York, Washington,
and an empty field in Pennsylvania.
No hand can mend, no hand can turn
these fallen back to nest.
              September 11, 2001 (revised Sept. 11, 2011)

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