Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11, 2001 — A Poem of Remembrance

The rumble of a jet engine
     low over Manhattan, too low.
Necks on the street craning to see
     the source of the noise.
In seconds, the sound of a great collision,
     a fireball in one of the twin towers,
    now gashed and looking like a broken chimney.

Calls are made; sirens roar;
     police and firemen on their way.
Chaos on the inside; chaos on the outside:
     in both human hearts and the broken tower.
What a horrible accident!  It just couldn’t be!

Yes, it could.
     And it was no accident:
In a cave in Afghanistan,
     Osama Bin Laden grins from ear to ear.
And in New York City, hear the rumble of another jet
          barely overhead.

Now two towers, burning, smoking.
     First responders doing their thing.
Bystanders on the street, running for their lives
      and staring into the impossible;
     A nation on the edge of their seats,
          rubbing eyes in disbelief:
               Who?  What?  Why?

What’s that?  The Pentagon too?
     And four new generations of Americans
          taste the bitterness America tasted
               at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941:
                    O God, not again!

At least the worst is over, right?
     Wrong.  The twin towers shiver,
          and crumble into a pile of dust and ash and twisted metal:
               an impromptu grave for more than 3000 people
                    who went to work that day with full calendars
                         and plans for the next weekend.

“I’ll see you this evening,” said the wife to her husband.
     “We’ll toss the football when I get home,”
          said the father to his son.
There was no evening for them,
     they never made it home:
          the football stayed in the closet;
               the boy stayed in his room, his pillow soaked with tears.

And it still wasn’t over: a plane spirals down in a Pennsylvania field;
     “Let’s roll,” says a passenger, and that plane is brought down
           by brave Americans who put the lives of others above their own.
There was a lot of that that day.

As night fell on America,
     there was much weeping and fervent praying;
          the President spoke, flags waved,
               the strains of “God Bless America” were heard from
                    sea to shining sea.
And America has never been the same.
There are memorials now in all these places,
     where thunder struck and people died,
          memorials made of wood and metal and stone.
And in the hearts of all Americans who lived that day
     there are memorials in our hearts and minds
          composed of images we will  never forget …
                and shouldn’t.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for remembering in such a special way, John. I never watch T.V. at that hour of the day, but Mom and Dad were on their way over and I was done with preparations. My birthday. As I sat taking in much more oxygen than I could exhale, Mom, who never listens to the radio in her car, was listening and doing the same thing. All I could think about was where is everybody I love? So many people that day were thinking the same thing, but they already knew the answer. Yes. Thank you for remembering.