Diary Entry for a Time Traveler
I will tell you
because I want you to understand
who we were.
I was in class when the towers came down.
I came out at our fifteen minute break
saw the news
glanced puzzled outside of the office window
because New Orleans also had a WTC
and then I went back to class.
So did the teacher.
They locked the building to outsiders
but the class went on.
On the days when New Orleans was drowning
I went to the library in Shreveport
to read the news
I competed for laptops carrying electronics news with
the unemployed looking for jobs.
Some of them murmured their
consternation. Some of them tapped their foot
as I sought pictures of my neighborhood.
Listen, I heard that there were people shopping
for groceries in Paris steps away
from where shots rang out.
Perhaps some monsieur ran out for bread for dinner
only to find that he needed it later when
friends stopped by to console him on the death of his wife.
It’s common to talk about Nero fiddling
while Rome burned. Actually, he was out of town
that day. He returned to rebuilt the Palatine.
I sit on the ruins that cover his buildings and wonder.
Am I the weeping peasant sifting
the ashes for my parents bones? Am the merchant making
a fortune on concrete that year?
Or am I the woman who sold the tinder to the man with the torch?