Subscribe to Granta today

John Balaban: Two Poems

|

Abandoned House, Saigon

Two swallows fly in a broken window, sweeping under
yellow orchids tumbling from the rotted frame.

The ghost up there has stopped her complaining
while out in the rain below a tarp, a girl selling soup

squats by the curb slicing tiny hoops of chili,
piling little heaps of red on a white dish.

Did the ghost upstairs learn English or French?
Where did she intend to go? Why does she linger?

How her lips must burn when her fingers brush them.
One swallow darts out the darkened window

while over in L.A., stuck in traffic, some Vietnamese guy
remembers this street, the vendor, the house lying almost empty.

**

A Finger

After most of the bodies were hauled away
and while the FBI and Fire Department and NYPD
were still haggling about who was in charge, as smoke cleared,
the figures in Tyvek suits came, gloved, gowned, masked,
ghostly figures searching rubble for pieces of people,
bagging, then sending the separate and commingled remains
to the temporary morgue set up on site.
This is where the snip of forefinger began its journey.

Not alone, of course, but with thousands of other bits not lost
or barged off with the tonnage for sorting at the city landfill.
A delicate tip, burnt and marked ‘finger, distal’ and sent over
to the Medical Examiner’s, where forensic anthropologists
sorted human from animal bones from Trade Center restaurants,
all buried together in the Pompeian effect of incinerated dust.

The bit of finger (that might have once tapped text messages,
potted a geranium, held a glass, stroked a cat, a lover’s face,
tugged a kite string along a beach) went to the Bio Lab
where it was profiled, bar-coded, and shelved in a Falcon tube.
Memorial Park, that is to say: the parking lot behind the ME,
droned with generators for the dozens of refrigerated trucks
filling with human debris, while over on the Hudson at Pier 94
families brought toothbrushes or lined up for DNA swabbing.

As the year passed, the unidentified remains were dried out
in a desiccation room – humidity pumped out, heat raised high –
shriveled, then vacuumed sealed.
                                                              But the finger tip had
a DNA match in a swab from her brother. She was English.
30 years old. She worked on the 105th floor of the North Tower.
The Times ran a bio. Her friends posted blogs. Her father
will not speak about it. Her mother planted a garden in Manhattan.
In that garden is a tree. Some look on it and feel restored.
Others, when the wind lifts its leaves, want to scream.

By John Balaban
Image by Jordan Dawe

Comments (80)

You need to create an account or log in to comment.

  1. davidjames

    Sun May 11 16:27:50 BST 2014

    Hmm… I read blogs on a similar topic, but i never visited your blog. I added it to favorites and i’ll be your constant reader.
    customer testimonials
    https://www.rebelmouse.com/mikewaldenacnenomorereview/

    #
  2. Jaavarsingh

    Wed Oct 22 08:03:17 BST 2014

    Nice Poem John, Great Work i like the way you started "Two swallows fly in a broken window" It resemblance Unity and Friendship. Cool one. Hey meantime if you are looking at SBI IFSC Code information here are few have a look at it, http://blogs.rediff.com/ifsccodes/ , http://ifsccode.over-blog.com/ and http://sbiifsccode.beep.com/.

    #
  3. anuradhakumari1666@gmail.com

    Wed Oct 22 08:11:43 BST 2014

    Good one. Keep posting similar poem. I am follower of you John. Here are some link which will guide you to show proper IFSC Code of SBI Bank check here http://sbiifsccode.blurpalicious.com/ , http://sbiifsccode.edublogs.org/ and
    http://sbiifsccode.unblog.fr/ .

    #
  4. Aqibarif741@gmail.com

    Sun Mar 30 11:59:36 BST 2014

    Hello,I love reading through your blog, I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wishing you the best of luck for all your blogging efforts. http://www.pinterest.com/bubblegumcastin bubblegum casting

    #
  5. Areesha Noor

    Fri Dec 26 16:38:10 GMT 2014

  6. flosyd

    Wed Oct 22 08:24:40 BST 2014

    I like you two poem its good one. Thanks for sharing with us. Refer these links for IFSC Code for SBI Banking http://sbiifsccode.webs.com/ and https://sbiifsccode.shutterfly.com/ .

    #
  7. studiopelangi

    Thu May 08 15:32:25 BST 2014

    Thats interesting fact, thank for sharing, can you explain the method? i thing this is new for me and i plant to visiting this regularry <a href="http://goo.gl/JQBo4J">Sewa led screen</a> <a href="http://goo.gl/U3iRDx">Sewa led</a>
    <a href="http://goo.gl/U3iRDx">Sewa led display</a>
    <a href="http://goo.gl/U3iRDx">Sewa led wall</a>
    <a href="http://goo.gl/U3iRDx">Rental led screen</a>
    <a href="http://goo.gl/U3iRDx">Sewa led panel</a>
    <a href="http://goo.gl/U3iRDx">Rental led video wall</a>
    <a href="http://studiopelangi.com/article/141303/sewa-led-screen-semarang--dalam-acara-pengisian-awal-waduk-jatibarang.html">Rental led screen</a>

    <a href="http://studiopelangi.com/article/141303/sewa-led-screen-semarang--dalam-acara-pengisian-awal-waduk-jatibarang.html">Sewa led panel</a>

    <a href="http://studiopelangi.com/article/141303/sewa-led-screen-semarang--dalam-acara-pengisian-awal-waduk-jatibarang.html">Rental led video wall</a>

    #
  8. davidjames

    Thu Apr 10 15:25:10 BST 2014

    Great post full of useful tips! My site is fairly new and I am also having a hard time getting my readers to leave comments. Analytics shows they are coming to the site but I have a feeling “nobody wants to be first”.
    Palm Beach Pressure Washing
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPPpyLEi_cg

    #
  9. andie

    Fri Dec 27 06:15:47 GMT 2013

  10. sakhadiseo

    Thu Jul 17 07:00:12 BST 2014

    Tiada hari tanpa Judi, Bermain Judi Online sudah menjadi profesi. Ayo Raih kemenangan anda etiap hari hanya besama kami Agen Judi Online Terpercaya.

    http://tinyurl.com/pt8g5k3
    http://share.pho.to/6NikY
    http://youtu.be/pUvYypfX0hc

    #
  11. goldservice

    Fri May 23 12:36:40 BST 2014

    You have done a great job. I will definitely dig it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site .

    minecraft for free

    http://freemcaccount.com/

    #
  12. karismas

    Thu Mar 20 13:16:41 GMT 2014

    Only one of the Monuments Men portrayed in the film is still living, however many of these heroes' children and grandchildren are alive to celebrate these heroes' great accomplishments. We are all incredibly excited about the work of George Clooney and Grant Heslov bringing this remarkable story to the attention of audiences worldwide.

    #
  13. agenbola

    Mon Jan 05 01:39:54 GMT 2015

    Agen Bola : www.ionliga.com
    Agen Bola Sbobet : mitrajudi.com
    Sbobet : arenaliga.com/sbobet/
    Ibcbet : arenaliga.com/agen-ibcbet/
    Agen Poker : kudapoker.com
    Agen Bola Terpercaya : arenaliga.com/
    Rajamerah : goo.gl/lP4dpY

    #
  14. Billep

    Sun Dec 29 10:57:08 GMT 2013

    Nice Information! I personally really appreciate your article. http://profitdetonatorreview.com

    #
  15. asadalikhatri

    Mon May 05 18:39:12 BST 2014

    The main focus of search engine marketing Austin is offsite optimization of the website using different methods such as link building and social media marketing. Link building helps increase the number of visitors to a website directly and indirectly by improving its rankings in search engines. Search engines consider both the number and quality of backlinks as well as the keywords used while generating search engine results for a particular search term.http://austinseo.marketing1on1.com/

    #
  16. davidjames

    Thu May 15 11:31:08 BST 2014

    The first several months of my site there were no comments; just give it time; now they come in like crazy every day! Thanks.
    seo company phoenix az
    http://www.seoinphoenix.com/

    #
  17. davidjames

    Sun May 04 00:43:49 BST 2014

    wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated.
    click now
    http://denverseo.marketing1on1.com/

    #
  18. filmsvkstreaming

    Wed Dec 31 00:33:34 GMT 2014

    If you are one of those individuals, it is likely that you would do just about anything in your power to improve your business, http://www.filmsvkstreaming.com/2014/05/transformers-4-l-de-l-streaming.html

    #
  19. davidjames

    Sun Apr 06 23:14:09 BST 2014

    it's really nice and meanful. it's really cool blog. Linking is very useful thing.you have really helped lots of people who visit blog and provide them usefull information.
    model mayhem
    http://www.mayhem-model.com/?p=16

    #
  20. davidjames

    Fri May 09 12:43:31 BST 2014

    Hi I found your site by mistake when i was searching yahoo for this acne issue, I must say your site is really helpful I also love the design, its amazing!. I don’t have the time at the moment to fully read your site but I have bookmarked it and also add your RSS feeds. I will be back in a day or two. thanks for a great site.
    epic soccer training program
    https://www.rebelmouse.com/epicsoccertraining/

    #
  21. mayank

    Sat Nov 22 11:07:11 GMT 2014

    <a href="http://www.downloadsmaniac.com/2012/05/adobe-photoshop-cs4-portable-free-download-full-version.html" nospam>Adobe

    Photoshop CS4 portable free download full version</a>
    <a href="http://www.downloadsmaniac.com/2012/11/tarzan-pc-game-free-download-full-version.html" nospam>Tarzan PC Game Free

    Download (Full Version) </a>
    <a href="http://www.downloadsmaniac.com/2012/11/project-igi-plan-pc-game-free-download-full-version.html" nospam>Project

    IGI 3 The Plan PC Game Free Download (Full Version)</a>
    <a href="http://www.downloadsmaniac.com/2012/09/plants-vs-zombies-2-game-free-download-full.html" nospam>Plants VS Zombies

    2 PC Game Free Download (Full Version)</a>
    <a href="http://www.downloadsmaniac.com/2012/06/adobe-premiere-pro-cs4-portable-free-download-full-version.html"

    nospam>Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 v4 Portable Free Download (Full Version)</a>
    <a href="http://www.downloadsmaniac.com/2012/06/snow-bros-pc-game-collection-free-download-full-version.html" nospam>Snow

    Bros 1 2 3 PC Game Collection Free Download (Full Version)</a>
    <a href="http://www.downloadsmaniac.com/2012/07/any-media-to-mp3-converter-free-download-full-version.html" nospam>Any

    Media to MP3 Converter 4.1 Free Download (Full Version)</a>
    <a href="http://www.downloadsmaniac.com/2012/06/google-translate-client-pro-free-download-full-version.html" nospam>Google

    Translate Client Pro 5.2.605 Free Download (Full Version)</a>
    <a href="#

  22. davidjames

    Sat Apr 19 23:47:43 BST 2014

    Wow! What an eye opener this post has been for me. Very much appreciated, bookmarked, I can’t wait for more!
    free baby samples
    https://sites.google.com/site/winfreebabystuff/

    #
  23. Jaavarsingh

    Fri Oct 24 09:26:40 BST 2014

    I love both poem. It made me to feel emotional. Nice one. Try these blogs for choosing better Solution for Cloud billing , CRM, Customer Service, Revenue Management click the link below http://blog.csdn.net/mazharmd/article/details/39525721

    #
  24. davidjames

    Tue May 13 22:02:08 BST 2014

    My friend mentioned to me your blog, so I thought I’d read it for myself. Very interesting insights, will be back for more!
    ytviews
    http://www.ytviews.biz/

    #
  25. davidjames

    Wed May 07 16:25:23 BST 2014

    It was great to see the old printshop and everyone who works there again. I am excited to see a printing business still operating and growing, great job guys
    Mass Unemployment Login
    http://massunemployment.loginq.com/

    #
  26. davidjames

    Wed May 07 15:42:11 BST 2014

    Hey – great blog, just looking around some blogs, seems a really nice platform you are using. I’m currently using WordPress for a few of my blogs but looking to change one of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run. Anything in particular you would recommend about it?
    ATT Webmail Login
    http://attwebmail.loginq.com/

    #
  27. davidjames

    Wed May 07 16:03:58 BST 2014

    I surprised with the analysis you made to make this particular publish incredible. Wonderful activity!
    Snapchat Usernames
    http://www.snapchatmap.com

    #
  28. davidjames

    Wed May 07 14:13:06 BST 2014

    I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post
    Reading Eggs Login
    http://readingeggs.loginq.com/

    #
  29. mardiyah

    Fri Feb 28 01:30:34 GMT 2014

    I was very encouraged to find this site. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.. look up the agen sbobet at http://vivobetting.net/agen-sbobet-indonesia/ or see more ibcbet at http://ligaplayer.com/ibcbet/

    #
  30. davidjames

    Thu Oct 02 15:38:19 BST 2014

    Hi I discovered your position by gaffe whereas i was searching boor for this acne emerge, I must say your scene is truly useful I besides like the draw, its extraordinary!. I don’t experience the pace at the point to completely interpret your spot but I contain bookmarked it and too total your RSS fattens. I volition be retreat in a time or couple. blesss for a awesome site.
    freedebtconsolidationquotes.com
    http://freedebtconsolidationquotes.com/chicago_illinois/

    #
  31. ghaffarkhatri

    Tue Oct 07 20:59:46 BST 2014

    The Mayo Clinic website states that "molecules of hyaluronan tend to form into protective mesh-like structures around cells and it is this structure that gives connective tissue rigidity, viscosity and elasticity
    Elite Test 360 Free Trial, Elite Test 360
    http://www.facebook.com/EliteTest360FreeTrial

    #
  32. davidjames

    Thu May 15 13:31:04 BST 2014

    I would say that this is a a great post of a great person,i'm pleased to see this.
    buzz in lock kit
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IKOXMH6/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=A386P4RU6GFOFU&seller=

    #
  33. davidjames

    Thu May 15 13:08:32 BST 2014

    The internet is bogged down with bogus blogs with no real message but the post was fantastic and well worth the read.Thank you for sharing this with me.
    Texas Unemployment Login
    http://texasunemployment.loginq.com/

    #
  34. davidjames

    Thu May 08 10:58:44 BST 2014

    This is a very good tips especially to those new to blogosphere, brief and accurate information… Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article.
    amino acids
    http://theworldofti.com/

    #
  35. asadalikhatri

    Thu May 08 20:21:19 BST 2014

    Today a large number of businesses, both big and small in Indianapolis have a website which showcases the products and services which they sell. While it is relatively easy to start a website, even if the business owner does not have much technical knowledge or skills, it is far more difficult to get targeted visitors to the website.search engine marketing indianapolis
    http://seoindianapolis.marketing1on1.com

    #
  36. asadalikhatri

    Fri May 09 09:51:09 BST 2014

    Search Engine Optimization involves strategies as well as processes that are geared towards increasing the visibility of a website and its products and services on the web. For businesses that want to gain an edge over their competitors around Jacksonville, investing in Jacksonville SEO services can help to generate more leads and business.jacksonville seo company
    http://jacksonvilleseo.marketing1on1.com

    #
  37. ghaffarkhatri

    Wed Oct 08 12:24:23 BST 2014

    The health and safety hazards associated with the handling of Melanotan 2 (MT-2) and other peptides in a research setting.
    Buy Melanotan
    http://www.peptidepros.net

    #
  38. lienarose

    Sat Feb 01 08:43:03 GMT 2014

    Thank you ever so for you article post.Much thanks again. Fantastic. http://www.keelog.com/keylogger

    #
  39. Maremar

    Wed Jul 30 06:06:13 BST 2014

  40. davidjames

    Wed Jun 11 12:45:55 BST 2014

    I've just decided to create a blog, which I have been wanting to do for a while. Thanks for this post, it's really useful!
    login sbobet dari hp
    http://www.sbobet-agenbola.com/

    #
  41. goldservice

    Wed Jun 11 17:25:20 BST 2014

    Hello, I just wanted to come here and tell you that you are doing a wonderful job on making these posts. And you should continue doing so!

    flappy bird cheats for free

    http://flappybirdcheatsforfree.com/

    #
  42. davidjames

    Wed Jun 25 12:53:41 BST 2014

    I would love to stop by. But, I think it might have to wait until this summer. I did not know that Serlkay had ever expanded its size. I must say that a succesful family owned business in this day and age is a very refreshing sight! As well as this is a very refreshing site!
    Isaac Spencer
    http://sunmaymusic.com

    #
  43. goldservice

    Wed Jun 25 22:47:20 BST 2014

    You have done a great job. I will definitely dig it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site.

    link building service

    http://www.fiverr.com/mr_jurme1

    #
  44. davidjames

    Fri Oct 10 00:39:04 BST 2014

    Took me age to comprehend total the criticizes, however I very loved the composition. It proved to be Really useful to me besides I am ineluctable to total the commenters here! It’s always fine whereas you can hardly singular be cognizant, however and entertained!
    homepage links
    http://fbacklink.com

    #
  45. mardiyah

    Thu Oct 09 14:06:39 BST 2014

    Go in addition to get hold of going to be the image,which you saved a few months ago Put a keep an eye on mark in the floor tile background keep tabs on carrier if all your family think going to be the background image must be the case repeated or at least tiled.
    http://wawangado.blogspot.com/2014/09/agen-domino.html
    http://wawangado.blogspot.com/2014/09/indowinpoker.html

    #
  46. smartmuneeb@live.com

    Sat Jan 17 14:37:33 GMT 2015

    Writing with style and getting good compliments on the article is quite hard, to be honest.But you've done it so calmly and with so cool feeling and you've nailed the job. http://www.amazon.com/Elite-Serum-Rx-Strength-Rejuvenate/dp/B00EJSONGG/

    #
  47. anjanijani

    Thu Jan 29 07:00:27 GMT 2015

    John Balaban are good..really good..
    http://rumahbagus.info

    #
  48. mtcom

    Fri Aug 29 20:29:32 BST 2014

  49. davidjames

    Tue Sep 30 12:47:59 BST 2014

    Once I thought about things like: why such information is for free here? Because when you write a book then at least on selling a book you get a percentage. Thank you and good luck on informing people more about it!
    Get Traffic
    http://easyvisitors.com

    #
  50. talissa

    Mon Dec 22 08:52:32 GMT 2014

    Great blog. I'll definetly put this article in my diary http://talissastore.com and my blog http://keperluanmu.com

    #
  51. dzeko

    Mon Oct 20 08:57:53 BST 2014

    It’s very simple to find out any matter on web as compared to textbooks, as I found this paragraph at this website.

    We can browse nice post http://www.kerberus.be/~kerberus_v1/?q=forum/algemeen/41145 Sewa Mobil DimasRentcar , also don't forget please go to vital news http://arisnbw.blogspot.com/2014/06/dimasrentcar.html Sewa Mobil DimasRentcar http://www.rental-sewamobilbandung.com and kerajinan tembaga http://www.aagallery.co.id ok , also don't forget please go to vital news http://azkar.twomini.com/sewa-mobil-mewah-camry-di-surakarta/ Rental Mobil DimasRentcar also cool news http://s2i.postingku.com/DimasRentcar Sewa Mobil DimasRentcar also news http://ajib.pusku.com/2014/06/sewa-mobil-dimasrentcar/ Rental Mobil DimasRentcar also cool post http://www.4risnb.com/dimasrentcar.php Rental Mobil DimasRentcar also vital post http://s2cm.postingku.org/dimasrentcar.php Rental Mobil DimasRentcar .

    #
  52. davidjames

    Fri Sep 12 00:03:32 BST 2014

    What a good blog you have here. Please update it more often. This topics is my interest. Thank you. . .
    quotes on auyo
    http://quotesauto.org/

    #
  53. davidjames

    Mon Sep 22 16:58:58 BST 2014

    The first several months of my site there were no comments; just give it time; now they come in like crazy every day! Thanks.
    best under eye cream
    https://storify.com/skintightening

    #
  54. davidjames

    Wed Sep 24 11:49:22 BST 2014

    wow this good but ,I like your post and good pics may be any peoples not like because defrent mind all poeple ,
    IIFYM
    http://iifymflexibledieting.com/

    #
  55. davidjames

    Wed Sep 24 12:25:56 BST 2014

    I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post
    review and program preview
    https://www.rebelmouse.com/selfsufficiencyshortcutsreview/

    #
  56. davidjames

    Wed Sep 24 13:06:48 BST 2014

    wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated.
    e liquid
    http://bluestar-eliquid.co.uk

    #
  57. alikhan_095

    Tue Jan 13 21:34:22 GMT 2015

    First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics, i will be always checking your blog thanks.

    http://kouklaki.com

    #
  58. mikkiprenatt

    Sun Jan 11 16:02:15 GMT 2015

    A great deal of might perhaps worth that could plan of action documents definitely certainly is the the very least challenging practically acquiring.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0LPWvl7beY
    http://satellite-internet.bravesites.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/satelliteinternetdealer

    #
  59. Alberta

    Fri Oct 31 05:32:16 GMT 2014

    Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks!! www.redeemacoupon.com

    #
  60. ghaffarkhatri

    Fri Oct 31 16:42:01 GMT 2014

    We’re a bunch of buds who get together each day to make something we all use and love; it just so happens that thing is a fast-growing company and one of the largest video communities in the world.
    Vimeo assurance
    https://vimeo.com/108182158

    #
  61. Robbie Tada

    Mon Nov 10 01:27:32 GMT 2014

    From Windshield Decals and Custom Greek letters to Custom Stickers For Cars, JDM Decals and more Stickers for Cars has you covered, buy your Sticker today!
    http://customstickershop.com/Windshield-Decals-C356431.aspx windshield decals

    #
  62. Jerryshaw

    Mon Nov 24 13:33:27 GMT 2014

    http://www.vinitysoft.com/ for best fleet solution.

    #