FOR THE FALLING MAN

By Annie Farnsworth

I see you again and again

tumbling out of the sky, in your slate-grey suit and pressed white shirt.

At first I thought you were debris

from the explosion, maybe gray plaster wall

or fuselage but then I realized

that people were leaping.

I know who you are, I know

there’s more to you than just this image

on the news, this ragdoll plummeting —

I know you were someone’s lover, husband,

daddy. Last night you read stories

to your children, tucked them in, then curled into sleep

next to your wife. Perhaps there was small

sleepy talk of the future. Then,

before your morning coffee had cooled

you’d come to this; a choice between fire

or falling.

How feeble these words, billowing

in this aftermath, how ineffectual

this utterance of sorrow. We can see plainly

it’s hopeless, even as the words trail from our mouths

— but we can’t help ourselves — how I wish

we could trade them for something

that could really have caught you.