Poem: Choice

Editor’s note: I wrote this poem and ran this post one year ago today and wanted to share it again on this day of remembrance. -Jackie Fox

Like everyone, I remember where I was on September 11, 2001. We all felt the shock and horror of what happened in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, and fear of how widespread it might be. I was in Omaha and vividly remember freaking out when I heard a low-flying jet after all planes had been grounded. I looked up to see Air Force One taking President Bush to Stratcom.

But the images and feelings from Ground Zero had and have the most pull. The first responders going up those stairs when everyone else was going the other way; the ERs waiting for patients who would never come. But what’s haunted me most of all are the people who leaped to their deaths. In the 10th anniversary issue of The New Yorker, Edwidge Danticat said ” . . . I kept thinking about a clear blue sky that had rained lives.” I kept thinking about it too, and about what it must have been like to make that terrible choice.


All of the choices in your life
Led you to this one;
Taking a job in a tower
That scrapes the heavens;
Showing up for a meeting with clients
That clear blue day.
Now the gruesome games we played
As children are made all too real;
Would you rather go deaf
Or blind? Drown
Or die in a fire?
You have to choose!
And you do.
Sheathed in smoke and tar-black fear
You pause at Hell’s threshold
Then lean out, take a deep breath
And leap into the waiting arms of God.

-Jackie Fox


9 thoughts on “Poem: Choice

  1. Oh, Jackie…. I don’t remember if I commented on this last year or not, but I have to share that the HORROR of those who made that choice haunts me now and will likely haunt me forever. My husband watched from across the river. The group of people didn’t realize what they were witnessing. Then, they realized and they stood there crying. Watching and praying and crying. And the media said little about the jumpers. My post today is a reflection of this.

    Your poem is beautiful.


  2. Wow! The way you weave the choices we make; the games we played as children… Not an extra word. Not one! You should be so proud of this, Jackie. I’m not sure what word to use to describe it. I want to say “stunning,” but that’s not it, and yet again, it is.

    • Brenda,
      Thank you SO MUCH! I have to tell you how much I appreciate your “not an extra word” comments because my mentor for my first semester in the University of Nebraska MFA writing program has charged me with cutting out the deadwood. I’ve written my share of flabby poems and I’m so happy you think this is not one of them. XOX

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