Saturday, September 11, 2010

A September 11th Poem

Beloved city, looking south, March 1993

On a Quiet September Day

The quiet morning light shines on the small black table,
once my mother's, and on the silver bowl from my wedding,
and on my grandmother's purple cut-glass paperweight.

            (Now four men are standing in line, waiting
for their bags to go through the security check.)

I move into the bedroom and pull my mother's trousseau
quilt, embroidered with lavender butterflies, smooth on the bed.

            (They are boarding the airliner now, moving
quietly into First Class, walking quiet, sitting quiet.)

In the kitchen I put down fresh water and food
for the cat, and then I move again to the faucet
to water the plants.

            (The men sit tightly clasped by their safety belts.)

Now I move outdoors, down the deck, to feed
the goldfish. They flash and suck into the surface
for the flakes, winding around the lily pads
below the waterfall.

            (The plane taxis, rises into the morning-blue
sky. The young stewardess smiles,
begins to move down the aisle, offering coffee.)

I come indoors to make coffee. I sit
down to drink slowly and to watch the hummingbirds
flash swift gold, swooping at the feeder, then away
in great free circles, then returning, radiant,
glittering in the sun.

            (The men have moved, have seized the
beautiful flashing plane, now head it toward the high tower, feeding on their dark fuel.)

Now I turn away from the shining morning,
and I turn on the t.v. to watch
this day's news.

-- Jeanne M. Nichols


  1. I remember! The first, second, third and fourth shock in the bright September morning. The first two I attributed to something gone deadly wrong with air traffic control in NYC. And then I couldn't deny what would forever change the country.


  2. And empty sky.
    I don't think we'll ever comprehend that day.

  3. It's still so surreal. Humanity at it's very worst.

  4. From the Kitchen -- Yes, we'll always remember where we were that awful day.

    Ms. Moon -- The Onion said it best in the days following: Holy Fucking Shit!

    Big Daddy Autism -- If that wasn't surreal, nothing is.

  5. I still can't believe that two airplanes took down three buildings like that.

    But am amazed that the buildings around 7 stood their ground and came out unscathed.

    And I am sad that there is still fallout from that day, as many rescue workers have since fallen ill.

    But I am thankful that incidents such as these are so rare here that they are still a shock to us.

    This poem is such a good example of how much that day rocked our sense of security. Thank you for posting it.

  6. Thank you so much for posting this poem. It is shattering, just like that day.

  7. Thanks for this poem, Elizabeth. Poems always bring logic to the illogical and help us express the inexpressible. It is still hard for me to reconcile the stunning beauty of that day, the shocking dislocation and pain that occurred and the way all of our lives, in ways large and small and to greater and lesser extents, were irrevocably changed while we watched. We all lost innocence that day and none of us were prepared.

    Happy belated birthday, my astro-twin. I hope the year is filled with blessings! I hear Saturn has moved on, Mercury has moved forward, and who knows- maybe the age of Aquarius will finally be upon us (I've been waiting since the play came out the first time, so it had better hurry!)

  8. I think of my friend A.J. who died in Tower 1. Knowin AJ and the floor he worked on my guess is he jumped.

    I believe September 11 is different for those of us who knew people that died that day.

    AJ's kids don't miss the Towers. They don't care about the open space and how the view changed. They worry about their Mom who has never recovered.

    Many say a trip to NY means a trip to Ground Zero, which is just dirt. The pain does not live in the dirt, it lives every day in the families that dread this anniversary.

  9. Kobico - beautifully said...

    Maggie May - That Springsteen song evokes everything, doesn't it?

    Leslie - I thought so, too -- so ominous and surreal

    Terra di mare -- I don't know what I'd do without poetry.

    Dave - I understand. My husband knew more than thirty people who died that day.



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