Remembering: David Lehman’s “12/19/02”

“12/19/02”

by David Lehman

published in Tin House, Vol. 17 (Fall 2003)

It seemed nothing would ever be the same
This feeling lasted for months
Not a day passed without a dozen mentions
of the devastation and the grief
Then life came back
it returned like sap to the tree
shooting new life into the veins
of parched leaves turning them green
and the old irritations came back,
they were life, too,
crowds pushing, taxis honking, the envies, the anger,
the woman who could not escape her misery
as she stood between two mirrored walls
couldn’t sleep, took a pill, heard the noises of neighbors
the dogs barking, the pigeons in the alley yipping weirdly
and the phone that rang at eight twenty with the news
of Lucy’s overdose we just saw her last Friday evening
at Jay’s on Jane Street she’d been dead for a day or so
when they found her and there was no note
the autopsy’s today the wake day after tomorrow
and then I knew that life had resumed, ordinary bitching life
had come back

* * * * *

Self’s sister died 10 years before the day; she never knew what was going to happen. That day her husband was at work early, as usual. He walked 40 blocks from his office on Wall Street before he was able to hail a cab to take him the rest of the way home.

Ying’s birthday was September 11. After that, it was strange for her: the world became strange on that day. And she died, 37 years old, seven years after, also on September 11.

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