Carly Sachs



1. Around midnight, September 4, 2001

The sky around the Empire State Building
is the color of blackboards clouded over,
too much chalk. There are too many windows,
too many peoples' lives to walk into.
Counting the stars is simple math---
I get eight using two hands. I know the moon
is out tonight, but I can't see beyond the brick fences.
This is my yard, flat-stomached roof with tiny pockets
of puddles, the hum of cooling systems and sirens.
Ghosts of concrete sit in the shadows,
ask me to rub their shoulders.
One building over, a man is falling asleep with his television.

2. 4 am, September 13, 2001

The sky around the Empire State Building
hangs damp like a towel draped over
the shower rod, bathroom windows
leaded with steam. The kind you can walk into
like a silent movie. These days of the aftermath
rise slowly, linger. Even the moon
looks smokey. The buildings are not fences
anymore. The sky is trying to clear, empty its pockets.
The coming of dawn screams with sirens.
Below on the streets rubies glisten in shadows.
The weight of morning must be carried on our shoulders.
Even if we wanted to, we cannot turn off the television.

3. 10:06 am, October 2, 2001

The sky around the Empire State Building
is a thin blue gauze a woman wears over
her shoulders and today the windows
only shoot back my reflection into
the cars parked on 12th. I try to do the math
for a poem in my head. If I use the word moon
in the second line, it will repeat in the sixth. The fences
of the fourth line and while calculating, I check my pockets
for change. I've grown accustomed to the sirens
and the homeless, the way the shadows
of strangers fan out, the way their shoulders
fall into their bodies as if rehearsed for television.

4. 9:32 pm, October 11, 2001

The sky around the Empire State Building
gathers clouds like spiderwebs, the night over-
cast, waiting. You will not see them from my windows.
We will not walk into
the same buildings, do the math
between weekends. You will slip away like the moon,
stretching the days into fences.
The walk home tonight, I put my hands in my pockets
to keep from calling you. The sirens
fold into notes for the couple kissing in the shadows
The weight of my bag grows heavy on my shoulders
like your absence, blue, flickering like television.


Carly Sachs teaches creative writing at George Washington University. Her first book of poems, the steam sequence, won the 2006 Washington Writers' Publishing House first book prize. With Reb Livingston, she curates Lolita and Gilda's Burlesque Poetry Hour at Bar Rouge. She is the editor of the why and later, an anthology of poems that women have written about rape and sexual assault, which is forthcoming from Deep Cleveland Press.

Published in Volume 8, Number 4, Fall 2007.


Read more by this author:
Carly Sachs: DC Places Issue