In The Face of Sudden Noise
by Charlie Geoghegan-Clements

We ate ice cream
the day he moved me into dorms.
I remember green deck chairs
on the Hudson, and he
dancing with pidgins
to make me laugh, as a father should,
except I bit back tears.

All he wanted
was to be young and in New York,
and I almost pissed my pants,
for want of an unlocked bathroom
in all of downtown.

We sat at dinner by the water
my father and I, watching lightning
carry fire to the tops of buildings
and talking circles around emotion.

Despite the noise
Adam didn't wake up in his bed across the room.

Not knowing a soul or the city
that morning - and Adam
didn't wake up at the noise -
just an ordinary crash. Outside
there wasn't sense. It was
hilarious, a small hole and so much smoke. No
sense at all. There weren't proper
proportions. I had a shower.
I went to my 10am class.
That was all.

There was nothing
to do
crumbled, that's
all -
on the way to class.

There wasn't a single smell and

I couldn't hear anything
but a girl yelling with all her will
“FUCK” like she had stubbed her toe.
And that sound somehow made it hilarious.

I had no idea
where He was but He could not be
and then He was on his ferry back home, with me
in the gym, listening
to scared kids sing hymns,
sitting on workout equipment.

the afternoon didn't exit.
It was all light, smoke and chrome.
Pictures. Smoke. Mirrors.
People evacuating looked like the March of Dimes on the Brooklyn Bridge.
It was, really, rather merry.

we couldn't sleep.

A few on my floor ran
to the rubble
before police and stole
concrete and gypsum
bent metal.
One pigfaced boy picked up a rifle that night.

People naturally back up,
and then move quickly forward,
in the face of sudden noise.

And even months later,
my father came to town
and love's heartsick guard-dog stood behind us
as he inhaled ash and cried
at the shirts and signs hanging on the fence built around the church.

Copyright 2021 by Red River Review. First Rights Reserved. All other rights revert to the authors.
No work may be reproduced or republished without the express written consent of the author.