September 11, 2001
You were in my arms, my baby boy, being rocked to sleep as a five day old needs:
warm, sleepy, and safe in your loving human cradle.
Daddy at work, a brother at school, and another young brother still asleep in a cozy crib,
a routine morning for us in the heartland.
Katie and Matt were on the telly, laughing with Al, as they usually did.
A cup of tea, a warm house, a September morning.
I watched as a plane flew into a tall building in New York City, my mouth gapping open.
What just happened? I asked myself.
It has to be a movie trailer or a sick joke, I thought.
Soon, mere minutes later, the full terror would be known.
Another plane, another skyscraper, hoards of humanity running aimlessly on city streets
and thick black smoke billowing from two brilliant glass buildings.
First responders rushing to the burning buildings. There to help. To save. To extinguish.
Don’t go in, you silently direct them, knowing that they will.
Some come out, many do not.
Families loose mothers, daughters, sons, husbands, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, and friends. No one is safe. No one understands what happened,
except for the terror it all.
We learn of a third plane, hijacked and aimed for our protectors at the pentagon.
Bravery ensues in the air as regular “Joe’s” become hero’s of the day forever more.
Many lives are lost in the incomprehensible destruction on our soil.
Through the rubble there’s a flag being hoisted.
America, the home of the brave, will never be the same.
Today is Poetry Friday. It is also the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York City and Pennsylvania. Three planes, three destroyers vs. the indelible and indestructible American Spirit. If you were alive on 9/11/2001, you most likely remember what you were doing that morning when the planes struck the Twin Towers. I know I remember. My poem recounts the vividness of what I can recall from that day. I’ve always been very grateful that my boys were too young to understand what was happening that day so long ago. I don’t know if I would have had words to explain. I know we kept the television off for quite a while after after the 9/11 attacks unless our boys were napping. How do you explain something you don’t understand yourself? How do you explain that level of hate?
We are American. We live. We Fight for Freedom.
Today’s host is Kiesha Shepard from Whispers on the Ridge blog. Many thanks go to her for hosting! Please check out her page for links to more poetry!
It’s all burned in our memory, is it not, those moments we couldn’t believe the horror, the disconnect between what our eyes were seeing and what our brains could not process … I relive this, reading your words. My youngest was three, in preschool; I went to get him. I called my parents. One needed to hold on to the familiar and the loved, in case the world was ending …although it didn’t, the landscape of our lives was changed forever. I think of that, looking at the beautiful but haunting photo minus the Twin Towers. “We are American. We live. We Fight for Freedom” – indeed. And we rise. Beautiful memorial.
What vivid memories. Mine are very different. I was teaching. My class was at related arts and as I walked through the library, some staff members were clustered around the TV, watching. It was so similar to the day I walked through the cafeteria during grad school and saw the Challenger disaster. Unbelievable. And then, the still-stunned faces of the community at the farmer’s market that next Saturday…so many flags…all of us suddenly tenderly grateful for each other and afraid for our uncertain future…
I was teaching & it was middle schoolers so we spent the day & parents joined us together, listening to the radio once in a while but so little was known, it was not helpful. All we could do with the kids was listen & stay calm for them, talk about what we might do to respond as we learned more. I remember how hard it was for teachers of the youngest to proceed with a day as if nothing had happened. And I remember trying to make phone calls, nothing for a while. Lines were full. Thanks for your poem that shows the thoughts of yours, but like all of us, nearly a stream of yelling, though whispering. I know one story of a friend of my husband’s who worked in one of the towers but was saved because he had a dentist app’t. I imagine there are many like that, or the other way, in that terrible & wrong place.
The memories of that day are burned into memory–I was teaching a class of 8th graders. Nothing prepared me for that. I also had a 3-year-old at home. We tried to shield her from the news, but some if it soaked in. For months, she added, “God be with the people on the planes” at the end of the blessing before meals and bedtie prayers.
Of course, we will never forget that moment or how it affected all of us. Thank you for your emotional tribute poem to the memories of that day.