The man who vacuumed his lawn

The Canadian poet-essayist Brian Doyle has written some powerful pieces inspired by 9/11. In his lyric essay ‘Kaddish,’ he captures the attacks on the World Trade Center by simply listing 217 one-line descriptions pulled from obituaries of the victims: ‘The man who occasionally vacuumed his lawn … The man who was identified by his Grateful Dead tattoo … The man who meticulously rotated the socks in his drawer for even use … The woman who loved pedicures on Sunday mornings … The woman who sketched commuters on the train every morning.’

In ‘Leap’, he considers the people who leapt from the towers from the perspective of onlookers: ‘They struck the pavement with such force that there was a pink mist in the air … Stuart De Hann saw one woman’s dress billowing as she fell, and he saw a shirtless man falling end over end, and he too saw the couple leaping hand in hand … I keep coming back to his hand and her hand nestled in each other with such extraordinary ordinary succinct ancient naked stunning perfect simple ferocious love.’

From Brian Doyle, Leaping: Revelations and Epiphanies (Loyola University Press, 2003))

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