That Side of the World
by Robert L. Dean, Jr.

As if it had an edge to it

As if, like a coin, she could flip it

As if it were paper
a crane, a butterfly, if only she knew the art of folding

As if wings
many, oh so many, fluttering upwards

As if thousands of breaths
breathed back into the clean blue face of the morning

As if people never plummeted past office windows
clothes billowing out like failed parachutes

As if eleven and nine were numbers in a game played only by children
ready or not

As if the game could never be replayed
is not now being replayed

crowds cheering
flags waving


As if half a continent were far enough
As if a decade

As if eight million souls couldn’t hide her
As if fields of wheat could

As if, here, now, in this middle-of-nowhere hospital
she can

fluff a pillow
feel a pulse
make a mark on a chart
save someone


As if commandos dropping out of the night sky
As if terrorists descending

As if she could turn off all TVs
As if this side of the world


As if she could ever hate that much
As if the tissue she twists in her hands

As if there is any place left


As if the reporter’s question
how she feels, today


As if bodies, inevitably


The day after a team of U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden, a local television reporter asked a nurse in Newton, Kansas, how she felt. Ten years earlier the woman had been at a desk on the fifth floor of the North Tower when the first plane struck. The woman’s answer contained the phrase “that side of the world.”

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