I’ve been thinking about 9/11 for a couple of weeks because of the anniversary. Not thinking about what I’d write today, just thinking about it, remembering what that day was like. I already wrote about September 11, 2001, at the Poetic Asides blog when I was still editor of Poet’s Market. The following poem completes the narrative; and none of these written pieces does justice to the enormity of the day, the experience, the feelings. It mattered, though, to try. That’s why we write.
Gettysburg, September 11
Summer celebrates its final days
on this scar-healed landscape.
Death does not intrude
despite the markers and monuments.
Mounted officers, infantrymen drawing a bead—
they dominate with resplendent elegance,
like statuary in a manor garden.
Thousands dead? It’s hard
to imagine, gazing on a valley
where even restless spirits
may pause to reflect
on the benefits of eternal rest.
No blood on the boulders,
not today. Wheatfield, Peach Orchard,
Spangler’s Spring—bucolic names
for nice places to linger.
In the Round Top woods,
shadows are pleasant, leaves
trace slow and graceful descents.
They soothe the mind
of imagined terror, mute
the echoes of shrieks and eruptions.
Not quite 9 a.m. Later,
the tour buses and vans, the chatter
of visitors about assaults,
strategy, the fallen.
It’s hard to imagine,
the sky too pure and brilliant.
The Poetry Foundation features an essay, “Beyond Grief and Grievance — The Poetry of 9/11 and Its Aftermath” by Philip Metres, which discusses the difficulty of writing about 9/11. It also links to the poems Metres discusses.