September 13, 2001


I imagine the first tower as seen from the cockpit of the first plane a split-second before impact. From here, at this moment, it would be all one could see. Does the pilot, knowing that victory is assured, raise his hands in exhalation? Does he mutter a few holy words as the nose hits home, splitting concrete and steel and glass?

Earlier I imagined a group of terrorists standing guard at the cockpit door as the plane approached its target. Their shared fear, the only fear that remained, was that one of the passengers would break into the cockpit and divert the plane.

Yet another cockpit scene: The moment the pilot of the second plane, the one headed for the south tower, first sees, in the distance, the mountain of smoke above the north tower.

I confess to feeling admiration for the terrorists. In my innocence, I had always imagined an atomic bomb at Disneyland, the usual 50’s-style nightmare. But this was far more clever and daring.

One of my many tasteless remarks from yesterday, spoken sotto voce: “Too bad we can’t hire these people to run the revolution.”

Of course the towers were hideous – twin abominations. Each time I stood beneath one, I thought this. Even more I thought it from the Staten Island ferry, which launched a mile south and yielded a spectacular view of the downtown skyline. If you never experienced this, you really missed something: two featureless slabs rising an absurd, inhuman distance into the sky. From here I often wished them gone. But however much I hated them (and I really did hate them), I couldn’t actually imagine them gone.

I still can’t. Endlessly repeated video clips notwithstanding, I won’t really believe it until I’m down there and there’s nothing.

That will be some day.

And then, over time, I’ll adjust – one always adjusts – until I finally forget the fucking things, as impossible as that now seems.