Sunday, December 18, 2011

václav havel (at Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center)

I know almost nothing
about you, but I know where I was
in 1968. it seemed the world was ending
that fall.

     did you hear sirens
when they came for you then,
or was it quieter than that -
just a rap at the door
after midnight?

now you are across this grand room from me,
surrounded by television cameras and crystal.

there is a toast in your honor.

at my table, we speculate,
but nobody knows why you are here
     - save that the UN
is also in this town.

my champagne smells sweetly
of fresh cut grass
or an afternoon with a lover.

the city slowly darkens into chiaroscuro.
above you, a chandelier begins to softly glow.

you smile at your companions.

taking your wine,
you pause with the glass
just at your lips,
as if you too
smell the cut grass
or remember a vanished
lover’s touch.

but perhaps it is another vanishing
that makes you pause.

even up here, if you listen carefully,
one hundred floors above New York,
you can still hear sirens
far away.

                             - richard russeth

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