Rockets flash briefly across the chilled sky, plumes of smoke, ash carried off by impending winter.
Over the lintel of the entry to the Inter-Continental Hotel Chicago, carved deeply into the marble Es Salamu Aleikum staring implacably through ponderous brass framed doors onto the Miracle Mile. Countless guests pass below it unseeing.
My son and I sit across a small table spilling bits of tapas onto the cloth, laughing lightly at the young boy bathed in a puree of tomato, his shirt dotted in goat cheese. My son explains the inflation of the universe, gravitational waves cast off by coalescing binary neutron stars. His words pull me deeper into my seat. We speak somberly of the jet engine parked haphazardly in the Queens gas station unwilling to mention 265 lives salted across the small community.
We embrace by his door, the few measured hours run. He turns to call his girlfriend, I turn my collar up against the November night.
The Red Line train clatters slowly back into a sleeping city. In my room I brew a cup of Darjeeling.
*”We will drink tea in Kabul tomorrow morning, if God wills it.” – Basir Khan, Northern Alliance Commander, quoted in the Chicago Tribune, 13 November 2001.
First appeared in Hearsay, 2004 and in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008).
My parents, well my father, always felt is was necessary to stop on the way to our summer home in the Western Adirondacks to visit Uncle Morris, who may or may not have been an uncle in the blood sense, it was never clear. It was he who sold my father the cottage near the small lake, he who now lived in a nursing home in Schenectady.
Morris was sweet, frail, but still wanted my father to play a couple of hands of pinochle, which drove my mother crazy, but she loved the cottage, and Morris sold it to them for a song to keep it in the family.
I liked watching them play, never understood the game, and hated the name Schenectady, but we’d always go for an early dinner at the Chinese Buffet across from the store Morris owned for years.