Touch You

Touch You

 

Nine o'clock in the morning, September eleventh,

the finger of God came down — and it touched you, and it touched me.

A tongue of flame shat forth from that hole and it spoke and we listened. 

 

It said, "Ye shall not forget me, or I shall burn ye to a one. 

Your planes shall not fly unless darts from my hand. Plummeting bodies thrash to pavement like puppets. I cut the strings. So, have I touched you?

You thought you knew me. You knew only my touch." 

 

Can I touch you

Would you touch me, too

Can I touch you

Would you touch me

 

The double spine of America trembled and crushed, reversed its ribonucleic construction, rushed

to the center and gave forth a cloud for to touch you.

In a rain of iron, steel, paper, and glass — on fighters and healers — 

an American jet banked once and disappeared.

Then, all afternoon spent counting the airplanes, whispering, “Arabs. 

Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor.”

The beast shrugs its shoulder of war under three inches of ash.

 

Some real symptom of our own disease; on a cellular level, the system it did slow; 

those blood banks could throw open their doors and cry, “We are empty.”

The National Guard pointed rifles at faces and hissed, "Get back.” 

The faces dissolved into mist. The soldiers held each other and wept. 

The finger of God had confused them. 

 

Can I touch you

Would you touch me, too

Can I touch you

Would you touch me

 

In the center of Dallas, at the hush of the day — the skies empty as coffins —

the ghost of JFK walks silent and alone.

 

In the darkness of Harlem, stars flicker back into vision.

A girl turns a chunk of white sidewalk chalk and colors a luminous arrow onto her chest.

 

Can I touch you

Would you touch me, too

Can I touch you

Would you touch me

 

 (Life Underwater Music, 2001)

James O'Brien