It's moving and beautiful. Excerpt. Read the whole thing.
The wind came when the pillar of fire became, in what seemed a moment outside of time, a pillar of smoke. We had been standing on the Promenade that morning in our thousands watching death rage at the center of a beautiful September morning. It was a morning with a clear and washed blue sky; the kind of rare New York morning when you can believe, again, that anything is possible in that city of dreams that so often dissolve into disappointment.
Anything, of course, except the two towers whose peaks were engulfed in flames.
Anything, it would seem, but what we were seeing.
And it was a morning, as I recall, that had no wind at all. That was why the flames and the smoke from the flames went almost straight up into the sky, a long sooted streak that bisected one side of the blue sky from the other....
The wind pummeled my back for the five minutes it took me to make my way to my apartment, get inside and shut the windows. I stood there at the windows and watched the others rush by, blurs in the smoke, and noticed when, as suddenly as it had come up, the wind died away and the air was almost still. The smoke and the ash still moved in the street outside and high overhead. The day was still darkened but the initial violence of the blast and the wind had passed.
In time, everyone had passed by as well and the street was empty except for the settling smoke. I looked outside the window where a Japanese maple grew and noticed that its wine-dark leaves were covered with small yellow flecks. I looked down at the sill outside the windows and saw the yellow flecks there as well.
At some point in the next few minutes it dawned on me that there would be few bodies found in the incinerating rubble across the river. I knew then — as certainly as I have even known anything — that all those who had still been in the towers had now gone into the flame and the smoke and that, in some way, the gleaming bits of yellow ash were their tokens, were what they had become in that plunging crematorium.