September 11, 2013

Remembering 9/11

One of the things I thought about after the attack on September 11, 2001 was what it must have been like to be in the World Trade Center towers that day. My response was the poem below, which I wrote about two weeks later. I offer it as a reminder a dozen years later. You can find this poem on my Web site here.

Falling from the Sky
by Lionel Deimel

My mind rejected the truth it knew when the first tower fell.

Expecting the second collapse, it rejected that reality also.

How many lives had I just seen truncated?

What was it like?

How had they died?

 

What became of those who telephoned at once to say they were all right but who were never heard from again?

What happened to those on lower floors who waited too long to become alarmed?

Did they know what was happening?

What did they hear?

What did they smell?

 

Was immolation by jet fuel worse than the fire felt by Joan of Arc?

Those who jumped must certainly have thought so.

The air was fresh,

And one could fly,

At least for a moment.

 

The second plane penetrated the wall like a heavy object dropped onto a cake.

Was anyone staring out the window as it became larger and larger?

Could he see into the cockpit?

Was the pilot smiling?

Was he serene?

 

The lucky ones died instantly of trauma,

Hearing only a loud crash before being overtaken by a dark, eternal silence.

Were they spared fear?

Did they gasp?

Did they pray?

 

Stairwells were filled with smoke and water and people,

Their downward journey slowed by the firefighters and hoses on their way up.

How many almost made it out?

How many fell?

How many gave up?

 

As steel buckled and failed under assault from the terrible fire,

Was it worse to be above, as the floor slipped away, or below?

Did they understand the meaning of that monstrous roar?

Did time stop?

Did they go mad?

 

As the end came, space was no longer filled with air, but became a maelstrom of angry particles

Fired from millions of machine guns pointed in every direction.

Could any bodies even remain whole?

Was there pain?

Was God there?


World Trade Center

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