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After the First Death: The Missing of Manhattan and Paradise

After the first death, there is no other. — Dylan Thomas, A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London

Within a month of 9/11 as I commuted underground a bit uptown and to the side of the burning pyre of 3,000 Americans and walked through that wounded city, I wrote about the missing whose photos and pleas for closure covered endless walls windows and doors in Manhatten. Now we have fire and the missing of Paradise. On a much smaller scale, of course, but missing and many of the missing destined to be missing forever…

Their silence keeps me sleepless for I know
Within that smoke, their ash still falls as snow,
To settle on our flesh like fading stars
Dissolve into sharp sparks at break of day.

At dawn a distant shudder in the earth
Disclosed the flight of fire into steel,
The shaking not of subways underground,
But screams from inside flowers made of flame… —  The Missing – Vanderleun

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  • G6loq November 30, 2018, 10:36 AM
  • Anonymous November 30, 2018, 10:21 PM

    “…within that smoke, their ash still falls like snow, to settle on our flesh like fading stars”
    We live in a town in the Sierra Mountains similar to Paradise to the south. I expressed that very sentiment to my wife before the recent rains cleared the skies. “This smoke and ash is not just what remains of trees and vegetation, but of homes and memories of our very people of the only state I’ve called home. -beautiful imagery and prose Gerard