Sounds like the day
the music died.
We sit in my honors class,
Material Culture and the Built Environment,
and watch
as the rooftop collapses.
The fire crackles
and I flinch.
At home, my sister cries,
and I think of her voice
ringing in that hallowed place,
the best choir solo
she ever earned.
I think of my parents,
passing by the towers before
my father,
dead nineteen years in August,
dropped to one knee
beneath the Arc de Triomphe,
heedless of traffic,
and asked my mother to marry him.
I think of myself.
I’ll never stand beneath that window
and step into Victor Hugo’s imagination.

“Buildings transcend culture and religion,”
my professor says, wiping her eyes.
“This is what we call
a global tragedy.”