POEM: A Good Friday Bike Ride at Ground Zero

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It is Good Friday.
I am riding my bike in Manhattan,
just a block uptown from Ground Zero.
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I am stopped at a traffic-light.
Two young men, Chinese tourists,
are looking hard at a map.
They look up; they look around.
They turn the map through 180 degrees.
They look some more.
Intently.
Furrowed.
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I ask them “Can I help you?”
Though many tourists will refuse such offers,
these two readily accept.

They come over to me.
One points at the letters “WTC”
(the World Trade Center)
written on the map, and asks me “Where it is?”
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[I realise afterwards that they might even
have already been to Ground Zero
and simply couldn’t locate the WTC building…]
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But now I am showing them, pointing.
They go “Ah” and nod vigorously.
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At which point I lean slightly forward to them;
–you might say, confidentially–
and I say to them
(–with a “hint” of a smile):
“You know it isn’t there anymore?”
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I wait.
Several deadpan beats
of non-comprehension go by.
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Then —
Big Smiles!
They are chuckling appreciatively.
They nod at me.
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As they walk away,
they poke each other,
still laughing.
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I think I hear
the Chinese for
“Not there anymore!”
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