November 2, 2023

Matthew 6:9-13*

in memory of J. M. – for D. C. – September 11, 2001, Manhattan, New York, USA

                        A man kneels next to a woman whose eyes are half sealed
                        shut. He asks if she’s Catholic. This happens minutes later. It’s
                        confusing & useful. With arms outstretched, palms open, she
                        walks through the lobby of The World Trade Center Marriott
                        Hotel. Her cotton-blend pantsuit is singed to her skin. Her
                        melted shoes have become parts of her feet. There’s a zipper
                        in her chest. She says “help.” This is one way to think about
                        wanting to live. To say “minutes later” is confusing & useful,
                        but not like prayers. Where elegies labor to the surface,
                        prayers hold court. She asks Jesus’s Sacred Heart not to let her
                        die. It’s useful to hear how The Marriott’s lobby spasms every
                        so often after the crash of someone falling into it. “Every so
                        often” does little to mark Time. The lobby’s floor is a collage
                        of glass, rebar, brief cases, falling water, parts of arms & faces,
                        smoke, odd shoes, heels, sandals. The woman feels what she
                        walks over as glass. We can’t know that, but there it is. Papers
                        float through grey air like abandoned kites & observant gulls.
                        This we can know, & what the everlasting-fuck would that
                        change? She knows there should be pain. She knows it’s
                        coming the way every one of us knows how certain shadows
                        shouldn’t look. She presses her fingers to the hem of Time.
                        Scratchy & soft, like a cat’s tongue. She prays to it in the
                        likeness of Jesus’s Sacred Heart because she wants to crawl
                        back inside it. This is one way to think about not wanting to
                        die. This is how jet fuel destroys Time. Minutes earlier, it’s set
                        aflame & shot down eighty floors of an elevator shaft, douses
                        the woman. Sense wants to be made. That’s why there are
                        prayers. Sense rarely gets made. That’s why there are prayers,
                        too. The man fills a clean trash bag with cold water & pours it
                        slowly on the woman. She’s smoldering. She wonders where
                        her shoes are. The man asks her her name & age & where she
                        works & … . She calls out for Jesus’s Sacred Heart. They feel,
                        then hear, then become a part of a great quaking. It’s still
                        useful to know someone’s name at the end of the world. It’s
                        confusing why it’s sometimes strange to ask someone their
                        name. Every one of us knows how certain shadows shouldn’t
                        look. This is one way to think about dying. We know. The
                        man kneels next to the woman who’s now lying on a floor that
                        feels like sharp, burning glass. We can’t know. That’s why he
                        asks her to say The Lord’s Prayer with him. Every so often the
                        lobby spasms. Give us this day our daily bread is useful. So is
                        forgive those who trespass against us, whereas … deliver us
                        from evil
requires judgment. Prayers shouldn’t judge. This, too,
                        is a judgment. This is why some prayers don’t work. It’s
                        confusing to judge. This is why we pray. It’s useful. This is one
                        way to think about living while dying. Thy kingdom come Thy
                        will be done on Earth … .
The lobby spasms. The bodies
                        aerate upon impact … as it is in Heaven … .

* 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever. Amen.

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