Poem: The Grey City

by JACLYN WENHOLD '22

Everything was grey,

I saw flames burst out of the glass building,

Commotion amongst the New Yorkers struck.

Like nothing my eyes have seen.


Layers of smoke rose into the bright blue sky,

An oven that would not turn off.

Heat pierced my skin,

Only imagining the pain of others,

Physically, mentally, emotionally.

Chaos. Fear. Terror.

Scent of polluted wind forcibly took over my lungs.

Wished for a fountain from the clouds,

Sirens blasted. Firefighters sternly shouted commands,

As I stood in fear, immobile from shock.

Street musicians disappeared,

As the blue skies shifted to black like my heart.

A deafening plane flew past, not regarding the people,

It came close. Too close. As if it blew my hair back.

I observed inconsolable looks across faces, mixed with tears.

A rumble of thunder occurred, or at least I thought.

Concrete caught me, sensed the soot and debris on my hands.

My eyes traced the other building. It was hit.

We dashed from the cloud of smoke chasing us,

Fear was sprung with more pain and grief.

Another drum roared through the New York streets,

I fell again, tasted the blood on my lip.

On all fours, I looked back,

Only one skyscraper standing.

On my knees, mourning for others,

The salt from my tears dropped on my tongue as I swallowed.

Dragged my body up, yearned for fresh air.

Lady sprinted from her apartment,

Dusty arms held a squirming black cat.

A marathon runner to the finish line,

But no line was found.

Only one skyscraper standing.

Far away, I glanced back at my city,

Only imagined the distress and desperation.

Stood on chalky roads, alert with shock.

Helicopters were distant clouds in the sky,

Newscasters appeared, showed the U.S. heartbreak.

One skyscraper standing,

Crumbled with mass destruction.

Ambulance sirens like cries from a child,

Streetlamp lights vanished,

Agonized weeping throughout the streets.

Humans came running,

Soot covered their body with no sign of skin color.

Sidewalks were love, hard to find passed the hatred, fear, and pain.

Every park bench like my grandpa’s hair.

An echoing rumble shattered my heart,

No skyscrapers standing.

Knees dropped in despair,

As rough, jagged blacktop scraped against them.

My silence grew louder.

And left was only the sound of hopelessness.

As if Lady Liberty’s tears melted the copper off her skin.

The towers seemed to vanish into thin air, an invisible misery.

Just waiting.

Wishing there were two skyscrapers standing.