I'm doing two things today, both significant: I'm going shopping for a cocktail dress for a friend's wedding and afterwards, I'm going up to the New-York Historical Society to see Here is New York: Remembering 9/11. If it seems disrespectful to go shopping on a day like this, so be it. The thing about death is that life goes on around it, no matter how much we would like the world to stop and howl with us. I'm not saying that we should forget, but that we should let go and move on. It's starting to become like the widow who flings herself onto the coffin and won't let go. It was a shocking murder of over three thousand people, but no more shocking a murder than the more than half a million Iraqis who've died since the war started.
That said, I give you this:
The City rebuilds itself on its own ashes,
like Troy on Troy,
this burned-out hulk where cop and fireman died
herding the innocents
no different from the charcoal plain
left beneath centuries more of new habitation in Anatolia.
without a Homer to name their names,
call their metaphorical attributes,
and send them in perpetuity
to the smoking site
with their doomed engines of salvation,
who will know them fifty, a hundred years hence?
Already we forget the names—if we ever knew them—
of the soldiers new-fallen in Assyria's ashes
by the waters of Babylon,
the half-million citizens
dead of our retribution
against a false enemy.
No bells toll
so read the names,
but read them all: Agamemnon, Father Mike, Hector,
the footsoldiers, Spartans, Amazons,
Greka, Moreno, Jimenez (dead in Akkadia),
the cops, the firemen, the EMTs,
the lawyers, brokers, office workers,
Helen and Cassandra,
the busboys, janitors, CEOs, salesmen, and after,
the volunteers, rescuers, dismantlers
still choking on the dust and ash.
All that’s missing is the gods
and even they forget
or don’t care.
© Lee Kottner 2007