COUNTERTERRORISM

after Kerrin McCadden

my husband’s portrait is in a collage behind glass on a museum 
wall of prayers his name is announced by the son who never spoke
it his smile is cast into homes of people we don’t know
his name echoes across a plaza where there used to be buildings
he’s a good dad who leaves his calling card in a kiosk
so we can find him I push two roses into the groove of his name
punched in a steel frame his sons lean over waters falling
into bedrock grit that’s spooned into a wood urn sitting on a shelf
behind the smoked glass of a cabinet that he built for his stereo
in his parent’s basement while waiting for a job interview in 1985.

I sign a custody document that has my husband’s name typed in Times
New Roman I call the medical examiner to claim his bones two messengers
in brown suits knock on my back door at 10 p.m. they tell
me about bones he left behind friends say they’re happy
that I have closure his nine-year old asks, who were those men, Mommy?
one rib is identified in February in May a portion of his scapula
matches the code in a Ziploc bag news bulletins report that
what remains is in a landfill with boxcutters and wristwatches his bones
are in a box with a Ziploc bag in a refrigerated trailer I’m invited for
a private viewing but I know he doesn’t want me picking at his bones

his son cries on his spelling list because the other dads know
how to pitch baseballs so their kids can hit them just right
he has a birthday party where he takes tennis lessons I bake a cake
halved with a tennis court and a baseball diamond punctuated by nine candles
and one for good luck his son returns from school and sleeps
on the couch clutching a Matchbox car in his fist he doesn’t blow
out the five candles on his ice cream cake we open Christmas presents
mailed to his brother’s home I tell his sons Daddy isn’t coming home
God needs him he has good sons who build a tower and helicopter of Legos
and drop lines to the figures on the roof and snap jetpacks to their backs.

he is missing and I think he’s trapped in a subway tunnel splicing
wires together to put out a signal we’re here because he’s the
New World Man I make copies of a photo of us at his twentieth high school
reunion hot glue them onto red posterboard duct tape
them to chain-link fences and glass transit shelters a Red
Cross volunteer hands me a pocket pack of facial tissues a water bottle
and an apple New York Crime Victim’s Board hands me a check
at a folding table so I can make a mortgage payment the medical examiner
clerk hands my husband’s friend a slip of paper with a P-number
I drop his toothbrush razor and comb into a Ziploc bag

he’s taught his eight-year-old how to send an email to his brother
in Vermont a plane hit the world trade center I hope my dad
is alrite his four-year old gets off the bus from his first day
of school carrying a drawing of four stick figures holding
hands “my family” I kneel on the floor screaming Run David Run
his parents to turn on their TV to witness his leaving I’m sipping
coffee at 9:03 a.m. I watch a passenger jet explode through
the south tower of the World Trade Center Big Bird stops singing
Good Morning Sun black smoke is billowing from an airplane-
shaped hole punched into the side of the World Trade Center

a passenger jet slices through floors 94-98 of tower one it’s the one
with an antenna on it I don’t remember which one his desk is in he’s
a good worker and hurries to his office instead of mailing
a disability policy he rides an elevator to the 97th floor I think
he’s listening to Return to Forever when his body explodes
into the fuselage of a 767 piloted by islamic extremists who rehearse
his murder in practice flights down the Hudson River where he motors
our boat to a lighthouse and jumps into the river to teach
his boys to ski the hijackers fly over the house where his mom prepares
his favorite soba noodles where he says, will you marry me?

our baby smiles as I snap his photo in the hinged doorway
of his first school bus ride he curls in a pink velvet armchair watching
Big Bird count to 100 by twos my husband rides the Long Island Railroad
to Penn Station he’s in a good mood because the train is
on time he runs up the street to the N64 bus and doesn’t
hear me shout I love you dear he helps our eight-year-old onto the bus
and says have a good day Davvie it’s morning the sky is blue
he hurries down the stairs and pours 2% milk into three bowls
of Cheerios he’s startled awake by the sun and verbally assaults
the clock commanding it’s late get my clothes out and pack sandwich meat in a Ziploc bag.

he’s restless and says I Love You thirteen times I ask what’s wrong
he tells me something feels strange I just want to hold you he’s synching
the to-do list and schedule from his Palm Pilot while the glue is drying
on the fractured parts of his son’s prized remote-control boat clamped on
a bench in the basement beside the Lego people waving flags forever
he takes a photo of his son holding a little league trophy
sand and tiny shells fill the pockets of his swim trunks he’s
a fun dad carrying his son on his shoulders into the tide
we go to a family barbeque he brings a toolbox to repair
a mailbox he walked into because he’s legally blind from the retinitis pigmentosa

he heard about when he wanted a learner’s permit he meets with our financial planner
and tells him we need a better disability policy and talks about
a will the babysitter is away he’s a good husband he changes
his work schedule to stay home with our boys on a September Tuesday
so I can begin a new phase of my career he takes the Hudson Line train
to his parents’ house where we meet for Labor Day weekend the boys
squeal over the edge of the bowrider he opens the throttle into the ebb
he packs a laptop duct tape and fishing poles in the caravan a photo
of us on a cabin porch in Maine with his parents and brother that
I glue-stick into a scrapbook collage and I slide into a page protector


About this poem:
This poem is a collage in prose of the present juxtaposed with the last four weeks of Dave's life. The informal structure sans punctuation paces the chaos and gives all of the weight to the legacy of the character and the loss.

© Deborah Garcia 2022, All rights reserved

4 Comments on “COUNTERTERRORISM”

  1. Speechless. In the short time I knew Dave I remember him as a straightforward man who profoundly loved his girlfriend who became his wife. May Dave rest in paradise. Pray you feel the warmth of his love for you Deb, always.

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