Extract from Michael Mitchell's translation

Thomas Lehr's September

the simple image  
    used to be: 
    Hate-fuelled terrorism declares war on the CIVILISED WORLD 
    an icon for 
    statesmen lining up hand on heart at Ground Zero National Anthem Flag Holy
 Firefighters Patriot Act War 
    against Terrorism 
    the plain the quickest the burning pictures a year ago were clearer were more
    the incomprehensible reality melts in the past in its monstrous scale 
the still incomprehensible reality is a comfort I dashed  
    out of the house in Amherst it was already 
    shattered afternoon  
    the southern tip of Manhattan had been smoking for some time already
black as a supertanker hit by incendiary bombs I drove telephoned got out
in order to phone because I was stuck I had no reception was too agitated
to drive and phone at the same time again and again screens radio-voices
airplanes light as shadows plunging into skyscrapers as if they were thin
aluminum pillars huge vomited fireballs traffic jams roadblocks accidents
still unsuspecting people telephone booths by restaurants filling stations
malls in order to perhaps get more information than with my cellphone all I
have is that 
    driving me mad when I knew that THERE no longer existed (its last sign 
and memorial the cubes outlined by millions of scraps of paper and small
debris a white shimmer in memory of the torn souls of the Towers) at first
I couldn't get through to Seymour the cellphone networks in the Financial
District had collapsed I didn't know Eric Mrs Donally wasn't in I had two
numbers for Amanda's colleagues but got no more reply from them than 
from her I only got answering machines responding to the engaged tone mailboxes 
with synthetic voices telling me I was in a queue leading right up to the deepest
    for weeks and weeks I had Seymour's terrible words inside my head and
those words are never-ending and won't go away those words 
    spoken at 10.06 on Broadway within sight of the Twin Towers after they'd
been hit one minute before the southern tower crumbled Seymour had hung up and 
set off running only to freeze immediately 
    for ten seconds 
    an avalanche coming down totally against reason a happening belonging to 
a completely different (geological, alpine) context 
    a cloud the height of a tower came flying towards him edged as if wrongly
drawn or in a stupid cartoon by the hard vertical lines of the tower blocks 
but then 
    Goya's Titan 
    right above you  
    trampling you underfoot 
    no oddly enough just sending you to 
    a deafening booming grey and white world out of which figures of ash and 
smoke stumble vomit fall to the ground as if into a foam of rubble so light it
looks as if the sharp-edged shattered objects wouldn't cut you as if all
those you're looking for should come stumbling toward you any minute
like these coughing spewing screaming cloud-born bankers housewives policemen
someone dragged him into a shop closed the glass door just in time before 
the next cloud front (blacker higher a storm-cannon loaded with bits of debris)
came hurtling past and all at once it was night and he was in a cramped 
drugstore with fifteen other people bathed in the light of fluorescent tubes 
like fish in an aquarium 
    that's the way they're still there inside us as if enclosed in a 
luminous internal aquarium Amanda Sabrina that they can't escape from 
that we protect with our flesh our skin with the last of our  
    life Seymour 
    I didn't make it to Manhattan that night I stood beside my car in New 
Jersey sank after hours in the darkness to the ground on a path along the
embankment leaning back against the front wheel and staring across the Hudson
the Towers should have been on the far right just a conglomerate of smoke
low flickering light seething darkness rising inky-black clouds adjoining 
the tower blocks beneath the pale sky planeless over the whole of America 
that completely cleared-out upper storey over the whole of America such a 
sky as there was 
    in Goethe's days 
    suddenly there was nothing but this 
    as if that were my only problem a policeman spoke to me I drove the car 
onto the shoulder and must have told him something about Sabrina for he brought
me a cup of coffee and wrote nothing in his notebook today I'd like to
know his name so many people are meeting now it's all over to stare back
into the past together at the dazzlingly bright shield of a crazy day that
even in the hundredth repetition and under the pressure of millions and millions
of looks will not yield one fraction of an inch nor lose anything of its 
mercilessly clear steely blueness 
    but night had already fallen I was shivering or trembling so much that I 
got back in the car and continued to stare into the darkness from there until
it gradually started to become transparent as if I'd won as if the Towers
could now rise up again in that long-drawn-out vertical column of smoke 
initially black and of a dense oiliness then getting lighter and thinner smoke
that months later could still be seen over the ravaged ground a veil refusing
to dissipate like spectral hands clouding the brilliant views from all 
the helicopters high above the destroyed complex their penetration into the 
    fed by the glowing hardly extinguishable underground cores three or five
storeys deep beneath the rubble of high-density baked materials the kerosene 
had turned into a blazing bonfire 
    in the morning light I saw that I'd almost knocked a fire-hydrant over 
the policeman who'd told me to park properly had presumably not noticed I
was in Hoboken in a desolate area between football stadiums right by the river 
and looked across why Hoboken of all places I wondered several times perhaps
because I'd once heard that soldiers' saying (Heaven, Hell or Hoboken)
finally I managed to make it to Manhattan after a roundabout drive to George
Washington Bridge then on foot and with buses the car parked close to City
College was stolen because I'd forgotten to lock it and that was a relief 
and made me all the more determined to keep to my decision to stay in Manhattan 
and to stick it out whatever it turned out to be I found a hotel room which I
used as a base for the two days I spent wandering around trying to get closer to 
    the zone 
    that monstrous shape of fumes and smoke spreading between the tower blocks
like a mushroom cloud that can't get off the ground