I decided to set down what I saw
from the train, ash smoldering
yellowish over the city, particles
of sulfur and metal, burning
particles of the thousands, ash
that wouldn’t lessen for months,
and what I saw when I was compelled
to get off the train at Penn Station,
late September, those notices posted
on temporary fences, the missing,
Xeroxed, hand written,
their photos melting in rain,
and the families lingering there,
ashen-faced, stunned, and the march
of the bulldozers I saw
from an apartment house roof
on Lower Broadway, a dozen of them
lifting and pivoting, piling,
and the sifting, sifting,
a few steel skeletons spiring the air,
a habitat where day and night
were undivided, and in a neighborhood
shop window, a man’s dress shirt
on a mannequin was an ash-covered shrine.
By spring, I saw a vernal pool,
neon, not a natural green. Algae,
and I hoped, the obligate species,
fairy shrimp and salamander,
life, springing forth nonetheless.
I write here on behalf of the unnamed
undocumented who surely perish
and no one knows they’re there.
Margot Wizansky’s chapbook, Wild for Life, was published with Lily Poetry Review Books (2022). The Yellow Sweater, her full-length poetry collection, is forthcoming from Kelsay Press in 2023. Her poems have appeared online and in many journals such as The American Journal of Poetry, The Missouri Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Ruminate, River Styx, Cimarron, and elsewhere. She edited and co-edited many anthologies and has won two residencies, one with Writers@Work in Salt Lake City and also with Carlow University in Sligo, Ireland. She lives in Massachusetts.